Kraft chooses Probi for North American probiotic push

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Probi Chief executive officer

Kraft Foods is throwing its weight behind the booming North
American probiotic market by signing a deal with a Scandinavian
probiotics specialist that will see the food giant expand its
digestive health range of foods called LiveActive.

Kraft spokesperson Basil Maglaris told the deal with Sweden's Probi was part of Kraft's plan to take the LiveActive range beyond dairy products such as spoonable and drinkable yogurt and yogurt drinks that have to date dominated the digestive health sector. "Consumers are interested in digestive health, particularly women, and we have been pleased with the response to the range so far,"​ he said. "We are looking forward to the response of consumers to the new probiotic additions to the range." ​Neither Kraft nor Probi, which has a turnover of €4.7m, would reveal the kind of product that would be first off the rank, but said it would appear within months and more would follow. Probi chief executive officer, Michael Oredsson, said: "Kraft are clearly very anxious to get into probiotics in a serious way and we are very excited to be partnering with an aggressive, professional company in this project." ​Oredsson said the companies had been working together for some time with Probi providing R&D input in both product and health claims development. Digestive health ​ Kraft launched LiveActive in March 2007 with a prebiotic cottage cheese product in response to the growing interest being shown in the category by the estimated 70 million Americans with digestive health problems. It is a sector that has grown from being virtually non-existent to $500m in little more than four years, according to estimates. Kraft since expanded the range to include prebiotic cereals and take-home mix drinks. It launched a probiotic cheese stick product in September last year employing probiotics from another unnamed supplier and said it would be backing the new additions with an online and television marketing campaign. "This agreement proves that Probi has a highly competitive probiotic offering which is attractive to major food companies,"​ said Probi vice president of marketing and sales, Niklas Bjärum. "Probi will continue to drive the booming US probiotics market and further contribute to the global interest. Probi, with its superior knowledge in probiotics, is well positioned to exploit the probiotics opportunities globally."​ Probi last year engaged in an exclusive nationwide deal to supply Colorado-based Next Foods with its clinically-backed probiotic strains in one-shot juice drinks called Verb: Goodbelly. The majority of the company's business is in Scandinavia and Europe but it has been pushing into new markets including the US where it has a presence in the dietary supplements market, and more recently the Indian supplements market.

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