Chr Hansen told NutraIngredients-USA.com that it is receiving increasing interest from customers looking to use probiotic ingredients in chewable applications. Although some of the inquiries come from firms already well established in the chewables category, the Danish ingredients group said it is seeing more interest from many players in the industry that want to broaden their scope into chewable probiotics. "It is a natural progression in a way. The probiotics market started out with products in capsule or powder form, and now we're seeing interest in other dosage forms, in tablets or chewables," said Lasse Nagell, global sales director for Chr Hansen's Health and Nutrition division. Probiotics have been especially slow in branching out into the chewables segment because of the particular challenges related to their use. The healthy bacteria will only deliver benefits if they are alive, which means that manufacturers need to endure the ingredients survive processing and storage conditions. "The challenge is that you are dealing with live organisms, so when you make a chewable you need to ensure survivability over time. But you also need to think about the whole formulation part, so that the chewable tablet has all the desirable qualities of a product in the category - like good taste and good dissolvability," said Nagell. Chewable ingredients Chr Hansen has a 'standard' probiotic ingredient line, as well as its Probio-Tec line, which it positions as a 'premium' range because of "additional features" in the areas of formulation and clinical data. The company currently sells ingredients in its Probio-Tec line to only a handful of customers - primarily in Europe - for use in chewable supplements. However, Nagell said the firm "clearly sees" market interest coming through - in the US as well as in Europe. A new chewable probiotic supplement made with Probio-Tec strains is due to be launched in the US next month. In this case, Chr Hansen provided only the ingredient to its customer Little Calumet Holdings, which conducted all R&D work independently. However, Nagell said Chr Hansen does provide technical and formulation services, depending on customer needs. Little Calumet Holdings spent seven years developing its Vidazorb chewable probiotic formulation, which will be sold in a number of different flavors including lemon, pomegranate, wild berry, orange pineapple and vanilla. The products in the range target children, adults and the elderly, and will be marketed for digestive health support, enhanced antioxidant support, nutrient absorption and age defense. They are made with single probiotic strains or combinations including the two popular strains L. acidophilus, LA-5 and Bifidobacterium, BB-12. Other companies that currently market chewable probiotic supplements include BioGaia and Ferrosan.