Unilever licenses Japanese peptide for blood pressure control range

- Last updated on GMT

Unilever will launch Europe's second blood pressure-controlling
dairy beverage in Portugal next month, writes Dominique
Patton.

The product will be the first of a range of blood pressure-controlling foods to be developed by the firm for the European market using the AmealPeptide ingredient licensed from Japan's Calpis​.

Finnish company Valio​ is to date the only European company to market a functional food - its Evolus fermented milk, which carries a claim that it can help reduce blood pressure.

This product, first available in Finland in 2000, was recently extend to the Spanish and Portugese markets. Yet this category remains a rich, untapped opportunity, with an estimated 100 million Europeans suffering from high blood pressure.

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, and this is set to increase.

More than 1.5 billion people will have high blood pressure by 2025, or around one in three adults over the age 20, US experts warned​ earlier this year. They forecast a 60 per cent increase in adults with high blood pressure over the next 20 years, with the world's poorest countries set to be worst hit.

Calpis launched the AmealPeptide, also known as lactotripeptide, in 1997 in the form of Ameal S, which has FOSHU (Food for Specified Health Use) status on the Japanese market. It accounts for about 70 per cent of the sales of blood pressure category FOSHU products.

Unilever​ will add it to a new milk drink under the Becel brand, joining Unilever's cholesterol-lowering margarine and dairy products also targeted at heart health.

A spokesman for the firm said it was not ready to disclose how the product will be marketed and whether it will carry a health claim.

AmealPeptide has been produced under contract in Denmark since May, not only for the European market but also to supply Japan and future US sales.

Like the Evolus ingredient, it is produced by the enzymatic hydrolysis of casein (milk protein) that creates tripeptides, shown in trials to reduce blood pressure.

Dutch ingredients group DMV International also makes a milk peptide for blood pressure-lowering (C12 peptide) while Chr Hansen, the food industry's biggest supplier of probiotics, recently announced that it had developed a bacteria named Cardi-04, shown in animal trials to lower blood pressure.

Calpis said on Thursday that it wants its functional ingredients business to become one of its mainstay activities and that it would seek to aggressively expand sales in the United States and other areas.

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