Under the terms of the agreement, VivaPro will initially focus on BC Plus (Bacillus coagulans GX-1), a proprietary spore strain developed for inclusion into supplements and powders amongst other products.
“Consumers, especially millennials, are paying a premium for functional foods and beverages that aid their well-being,” explains Albert Dahbour, executive vice president of Viva5.
“VivaPro probiotic applications will include delivering BC Plus into diverse food and beverage delivery formats such as bars, cereals, fruit and vegetable juices, flavoured waters, smoothies, hot drinks, frozen food, dairy and plant-based milk drinks and powdered drink mixes.”
Global consumer interest in functional foods is growing rapidly. VivaPro will work to address consumer needs in relevant niches such as probiotic yogurt drinks, sports performance drinks and soymilk,” he adds.
“We expect bakery and cereal segments expect to grow as well and be prime candidates to be fortified with probiotics.
“And along with pill fatigue, the growth of the confectionary segment with nutritional gummies is also a popular trend.”
Further agreement terms will see the formation of a standalone company VivaPro, which is to be based in the US and majority owned by Viva5 Group. Probi will be able to acquire the share majority of the company at a later date.
With the US a leading market for functional foods and expected to continue growing over the next five years, Dahbour says having operations in the US where Probi also has a presence made sense and the location also worked well as a global base to collaborate.
“This joint venture is an important step in our commercial efforts to address new and attractive market niches,” says Tom Rönnlund, CEO of Probi.
“Even in these turbulent times we see great opportunities to jointly build a successful business, based on our longstanding relationship and confidence in our respective abilities to create scientific and commercial success."
Commenting on the coronavirus’ impact, Dahbour says the timing of the joint venture strengthens the firm’s resolve to further develop new probiotic strains and applications enabling functional foods and to be healthier to support digestive and immune health.
“We know that probiotics keep the gut and digestive system healthy, and this ensures our immune system works well,” he adds.
“Probiotics will be one of the key categories people look to supplement with regarding boosting their immune health, to fight against the coronavirus. In fact, having a strong immune system to fight this virus is more important than ever.”
Probi’s deal with Viva5 Group follows more microbiome-related deals last year, in an agreement with Symrise to create probiotic-based products that targets the nutricosmetic sector.
The deal focused on the Symrise-owned strain of Lactobacillus plantarum HEAL19, purported to address sensitive and dry skin.
The strain is expected to appear in a broad range of applications that include dry skin care, atopic prone skin care, baby care, sensitive skin care, body and face care.
The prior year saw Probi also sign a long-term deal with Cilag, a member of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, for another probiotic product.
The agreement saw the two firms enter a joint probiotic development program funded by Cilag International, while Probi will contribute its probiotic expertise.