Protexin buys €2m+ UK pre-probiotic brand

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Protexin buys €2m+ UK pre-probiotic brand

Related tags: Irritable bowel syndrome, European union, Dietary fiber

UK firm Probiotics International (Protexin) has acquired fellow UK digestive products maker, The Healthy Bowels Company, in an undisclosed deal that sees Protexin gain control of €2m+ pre-probiotic combination brand, Lepicol.

Protexin commercial director Jonathan Sowler told NutraIngredients The Healthy Bowels Company and Lepicol would help drive the €14.65m company’s expansion plans in the UK and Europe and emerging markets in south east Asia and the Middle East.

We have been looking for brands and they are a leader in digestive health and products for people suffering Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) so this is a perfect fit for us,” ​he said.

Lepicol is a combination of probiotic strains and prebiotic psyllium fibres whereas Protexin has specialised in pure probiotics previously with multi-strain brands like Bio-Kult. The company is also heavily involved in animal nutrition where it derives more than half its sales, but its human nutrition business is growing more rapidly.

Protexin is present in about 20 markets and its overall growth is about 20% per annum, a similar rate to Lepicol’s own growth.

While it is still in the process of submitting a health claim to the European Union claims system, Protexin recently won a UK Queens Award for Enterprise 2011 for its commitment to scientific research.

“Protexin are experts in the digestive health and probiotic field for humans, as well as making market leading products for companion animals, equine and agriculture. So, what better company is there to move Lepicol forward in order for it to benefit even more consumers” ​said Peter Jackson founder of The Healthy Bowels Company.

“I developed the Lepicol formulation when I was concerned about my bowel health and introduced it to the market in 1999. It is taken regularly by thousands of people across more than 20 countries and with the expertise of Protexin I have no doubt it will reach even more people going forward.”

Lepicol sells in pharmacies like Boots, Holland and Barrett, Waitrose and health food stores or online.

Validation

Protexin has a clinic al trial underway with IBS endpoints that is due for completion in 2013 – after the European Commission is due to publish a swathe of probiotic health claim rejections at the beginning of next year.

While the company said this state-of-affairs was yet to affect its bottom line sales, it was prepared to make changes to its marketing messages if need be.

“We expect that we may have 18 months where we may not be able to make any claims,”​ Sowler conveyed recently on that issue. “We think this regulation is harsh, and you can see that is not just a commercial point of view when you look at the academic reaction to some of the rulings, but in a way it has been good for smaller companies because we have been able to catch up because even the well-documented strains of Danone or Yakult have not won EFSA support.”

“Much of the science that has gone before is completely redundant now.”

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