Valio extends Evolus brand to Spain and Portugal

Related tags Blood pressure Hypertension Milk

Dairy products designed to lower blood pressure are being
introduced in Spain and Portugal this month under new licensing
deals with Finnish functional dairy firm Valio.

The product launches will expose the blood pressure lowering Evolus brand to much larger markets than before, helping to raise consumer awareness of blood pressure-lowering foods.

Valio​ launched its Evolus product on the domestic market in 2000. It was the first in Europe to claim a blood pressure-lowering effect.

In 2003, the group signed a licensing deal for Iceland, but the product remains in a very niche category and its sales volumes contrast sharply with the success of Valio's probiotic products. Valio was one of the first European companies to launch probiotic products in 1990.

"Our probiotic products have done extremely well, and Finnish people probably now have the highest probiotic consumption in the world at around 6kg per capita each year,"​ Kalle Leporanta, marketing manager at Valio, told

Leporanta declined to comment on growth and sales volumes of the Evolus products but said they remain in a niche category targeting a narrow consumer group.

"New products, however optimistic we are, always take time before people learn about the new function. However we see a lot of potential with this product and it will benefit from a little help from abroad."

The Evolus brand will be marketed from this month by Swiss dairy group Emmi and Spain's Kaiku, both of which already license the use of Valio's probiotic LGG. Kaiku will make Evolus products in Spain, selling them under the Kaiku Vita brand, while Emmi will make the blood pressure lowering products in Switzerland for the Portuguese market.

This introduces the brand to a further 50 million people, compared to the 5 million Finns.

Industry will be watching the new introductions closely. Blood pressure is a promising target for functional food makers, with US researchers warning last month that more than 1.5 billion people will have high blood pressure by 2025, or around one in three adults over the age 20. This represents a 60 per cent increase over the next 20 years.

About two thirds of strokes and half the incidence of heart disease are attributable to raised blood pressure, according to the World Health Organisation. Globally, high blood pressure is estimated to cause 7.1 million deaths, about 13 per cent of the total and about 4.4 per cent of the total chronic disease burden.

Blood pressure lowering products have been available in Japan for some years but Europe has not seen the same interest from food manufacturers.Some ingredients firms are however working on this area. Chr Hansen, the food industry's biggest supplier of probiotics, recently announced that it had developed a bacteria named Cardi-04 that has been shown in animal trials to lower blood pressure.

DMV has also developed a casein peptide, called C12, which has been shown to reduce blood pressure levels.

The bioactive peptides in Evolus are produced by fermenting milk casein with certain lactic acid bacteria, widely used in cheesemaking, which splits casein to the ile-pro-pro and val-pro-pro tripeptides. These tripeptides are responsible for reducing blood pressure, demonstrated in three experimental studies and four clinical studies, according to Valio.

Most of the Japanese products are also based on bioactive peptides, although Leporanta claims that Evolus has a higher content of these compounds.

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