Probi supplies the probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum to fellow Swedish firm ProViva AB, for use in ProViva products marketed in fruit drink and one-shot forms as an aid to soothe uneasy digestion; despite no thumbs-up from EFSA as yet, the products do hold an approved health claim from Swedish health authorities dating back to 2003.
Accordingly, ProViva has only been sold in Finland and Sweden, with the latter seeing strongest sales (SEK 600m during 2009) at 95% of Finnish levels and, Probi claims, almost 100% brand awareness.
A major deal last October saw French probitic giant Danone purchase 51% of ProViva AB, and also also sign two new licensing agreements for probiotic supply with Probi, one covering Sweden and Finland, the other relating to international markets and North America.
Probi CEO Michael Oredsson told NutraIngredients.com: “Following the Danone deal we’re looking into a Finnish relaunch of ProViva this coming autumn, and other international markets are under discussion in the short term. We’re hoping for potential launches in late 2011 or early 2012, but nothing is confirmed yet.
Signficant growth potential
Probi’s preliminary annual report released today saw the company hail its "best year yet", with turnover increasing by 23%, while NET sales hit SEK 890.4 (65.5m 2009) for the year and SEK 21.9m (15.8m 2009) for the fourth quarter.
Said Oredsson: "The new agreements with Danone and the successful launch of [supplements] ProbiMage and ProbiFrisk in Sweden are the most important reasons for 2010 being a successful year. The co-operation with Danone weill be of importance to Probi, as it secures royalty revenues from ProViva in Sweden."
Asked if the tie-up with Danone meant a shift towards functional foods and supplement, rather than supply of probiotics to pharmaceutical and health firms, Oredsson added:
“We think the tie-up will provide growth generally, but dietary supplements will also grow [as well as functional foods] since we’re seeing good growth in both sectors.
“When Danone really launches ProViva internationally this should generate significant growth potential.”
EFSA submission imminent
Oredsson told this publication last October that an important trigger for the emergence of ProViva as a pan-European brand, which he said Probi was preparing its submission with Danone and would send it to EFSA “in the near future”.
Asked if this was any nearer fruition he said: “We’re still working with Danone and other industry consultants on this, we looked at the situation [regarding an article 13.5 claim relating Lp299v, the probiotic strain in ProViva] and decided to add dialogue to the files this year.