Probiotic juice buoyant amid claim rejections

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Probiotic juice Probiotic functional beverage beverage

Sales of the world’s first probiotic juice, ProViva, have not been dented by the raft of probiotic strain negative opinions flowing from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), with sales jumping eight per cent in the first quarter of 2010.

ProViva, owned by Sewedish dairy Skånemejerier, records sales of about €55m per year retail, the majority in Sweden with low-level sales in Denmark and Finland.

Skåne brand manger for ProViva and fruit juices, Anders Ahlstrom, said the fact ProViva had been on the market since 1994, had given it a presence that had shielded it to a degree from the perils of the economic recession and potential negative fall-out from EFSA’s view on the probiotic dossiers it has so far assessed.

“We have been on the market in Sweden for such a long time,” ​Ahlstrom told NutraIngredients this morning. “Surveys show 90 per cent of Swedes recognise the brand and 70 per cent understand the digestive benefits, so sales have continued to rise.”

He noted that Swedish health authorities had authorised a gut health claim for the product in 2003, before European Union health claim rules superseded it.

Ahlstrom said no claim had been submitted for ProViva itself, but the supplier of the Lactobacillus plantarum 299v ​strain, fellow Swedish firm, Probi, had submitted a dossier for the strain itself.

Probi put out its Q1 statement yesterday and noted the strong performance of ProViva, in a year-on-year performance that saw sales remain at similar levels.

”Net sales were unchanged compared to the first quarter of 2009, but it is noteworthy that proceeds from ProViva were the highest since launch in 1994,”​ said Probi chief executive officer, Michael Oredsson.

“To further reinforce Probi’s leadership in probiotic research, we are now establishing a Scientific Advisory Board with world leading scientists who are leaders in fields relevant to probiotics.”

Skåne and Probi teamed up on another probiotic juice called Bravo Friscus last year that came in the form of one-litre 100 per cent apple and orange juices cartons and incorporated plantarum ​as well as Lactobacillus paracasei​ with specific claims relating to cold and flu resistance.

While pundits have pointed to the difficult time many probiotic products have had outside of the core platforms of spoonable and drinkable yoghurts, a probiotic juice, Goodbelly, was launched in the US in 2007 by a company established by Steve Demos.

Demos is the man who turned soy milk brand, Silk, into a mainstream player before selling it and the company that made it, White Wave, to Dean Foods in 2002.

Finnish dairy, Valio, has had a product called Gefilus on the market since 1997. Gefilus was once marketed on digestive health benefits but now makes broad immunity claims.

Arla Ingman Oy Ab also has a 100 per cent BioGaia-supplied probiotic juice under the Rela brand that has been on-market in Finland since 1999.

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