Dairy companies have been integrating Danisco probiotics, marketed under the Howaru brand name, into products such as functional yogurts, probiotic cheeses and infant nutrition to meet the growing demand for health and wellness, which is driving trends across the food industry. "Danisco works to meet the market demand for products containing probiotics with the proven health benefits with proven health benefits, such as improved digestive health and enhancing immune system modulation," said Marcelo Pedra, regional product manager. "As a result, a number of successful products have been launched on the Latin American market using Danisco probiotics." The probiotic yogurt market in Latin America grew 32 percent annually from 2005 to 2007, valuing at $1.07bn for drinking yogurt in 2007, and $617m for spoonable yogurt, according to figures provided by Euromonitor. Probiotic yogurts accounted for 30 percent of the total yogurt market value there last year. Companies turning to Danisco Brazil-based company Batavo was the first to launch a functional yogurt, according to Danisco. Its probiotic skimmed yogurt, Bio Fibras, is enriched with Danisco's Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis cultures. The widely-tested Lactobacillus acidophilus culture is backed by scientific documentation on its benefits for gut health as well as long-term stability. It has also been seen to have an analgesic effect in the gut equivalent to morphine. Batavo's probiotic yogurt now represents 14 percent of Batavo's income from its yogurt business, said Danisco. Danisco's cultures were also used in Brazil's first probiotic cheese - San Bios, manufacturerd by Santa Clara. The product contains Danisco's probiotic cultures with Bifidibacterium Lactis BI-07, and Santa Clara estimates that the product accounts for hal of its fresh cheese sales. Other companies using Danisco probiotic cultures include Colun, Chile's second largest dairy company, which has responded to the demand for probiotics by developing Vilib, a probiotic lactic drink containing Lactobacillus acidophilus. And in Columbia, Alpina has added a specially formulated probiotic yogurt to its portfolio of baby food products as a result of the growing infant nutrition market. The baby food market in Latin American grew in value by 57.7 per cent between 2002 and 2007, valuing $784m last year, according to Euromonitor. A spokesperson from Alpina said: "This unique yogurt is easy to digest, does not contain fruit pieces and has probiotic cultures. That gives it a smooth texture and flavor suitable for babies." Danisco cultures In its full year 2007/8 results, Danisco said it planned to strengthen its health and nutrition ingredients, considering these key drivers for ingredients after seeing more demand from customers for functional ingredients that safeguard health. It boasts a focused offering in this area at the moment, including xylitol sweeteners and probiotic cultures. The company said: "It will be a future focus for us to further strengthen and broaden our health and nutrition portfolio into value-adding areas where we do not yet hold a market leading position," said Danisco. "This will happen through increased research efforts into new applications for our current ingredients and development of new products, as well as through bolt-on acquisitions where we can leverage on our existing distribution platform." For full year 2007/8, Danisco's food ingredients operations brought in revenue of DKK 8565m (€1148.4m), of which DKK 3431m (€461m) came from Bio Actives (comprising cultures and enzymes). Across the board, Danisco reported full year revenue of DKK18778m (€2517.4) for the year, compared to DKK 18802m (€2521m) for the year before. EBITDA before special items was DKK 3198m (€428.8m), compared to DKK 3078m (€412.7m).