The Ohio-based company behind an ultra-resilient strain of bacteria capable of taking probiotics into completely new territory predicts its food and beverage licensing business will more than double in size in 2011.
Ganeden vice president of business development Mike Bush was speaking to NutraIngredients-USA.com after supplement giant Schiff Nutrition paid $40m for the Sustenex and Digestive Advantage supplement brands containing Ganeden’s BC30 (Bacillus Coagulans GBI-6086) probiotic strain and the exclusive right to use it in the over-the-counter and dietary supplements markets.
The deal had released cash for Ganeden to invest in developing BC30 in food and drink applications, where it had significant advantages over rival probiotic strains owing to its unique ability to withstand extremes of temperature and harsh processing techniques, said Bush.
"Food and beverage sales are going very, very well. We have a number of significant product launches in process and 2011 will be the best year yet for GanedenBC30. Although we are a private company and do not disclose financials, our food and beverage licensing business will more than double in size again this year."
Strong sell-through in Walmart
Sales of enliven, a yogurt featuring BC30 that launched in Walmart in February, were going "quite well" he added. "We are getting strong sell-through and consumers love the product."
While there was competition, rivals lacked the "depth of clinical, scientific and application data that Ganeden has", claimed Bush.
"Ganeden has issued over 100 patents in our space and we have completed dozens of clinical trials. Additionally, the safety work on BC30 is quite broad and by far the most comprehensive safety review of any B. coagulans strain so we really see an open field as it relates to resistant probiotics for the food, beverage, topical and animal health markets."
Deal is a game changer
Dr Alex Schauss, chief executive of AIBMR Life Sciences, which has worked closely with Ganeden on clinical studies demonstrating both the safety and efficacy of BC30, said the deal with Schiff offered a “valuable model” of how a relatively small company with some great IP could realize its asset value by attracting the attention of a significant player in the supplements sector.
While Ganeden had achieved a lot on its own, the deal with Schiff would be a “game changer” given Schiff’s clout in the supplements market, predicted Schauss.
There would also be ongoing cross-marketing benefits as BC30 gained momentum in multiple channels, he predicted. “If recognition of BC30 grows in the food and drink arena it can only benefit sales in the supplements sector and vice versa.”
The potential in food and drink was enormous given BC30’s technical advantages over rival probiotic strains, he said, but required significant capital. “You can’t just go to a major food and drink company and say this will work in your products. You need to approach them with a proof of concept and the R&D application work already done. The deal with Schiff means Ganeden now has the money to spend on this.”
Ultra-resilience makes it unique in probiotic marketplace
The exciting thing about BC30 was its resilience, both in terms of its ability to withstand harsh processing techniques and extremes of temperature (it can be boiled, baked, frozen, pasteurized and extruded) and its ability to survive through the digestive tract, he said.
“There has been a lot of negative news about the viability of probiotics, with tests of some products showing that many do not survive to reach the large intestine. But with BC30, viability is not an issue.”
Meanwhile, its durability made it “different from the entire probiotic marketplace” and opened up a raft of food applications previously closed to probiotics, from hot tea to muffins, frozen yogurts and cereal bars, he added [BC30 spores have been shown to survive at pH levels as low as 2.3 and is used in products with a shelf-life of more than two years].
“Once we saw the data that showed that it was viable at room temperature, thus eliminating the need for refrigeration, we could see that Ganeden had a winner.”
The “remarkable resilience” of BC30 is not due to clever encapsulation techniques, but relates to the bacterial strain itself, which is a spore-forming bacterium. This means that inside the bacterial cell is a hardened structure, or spore, a bit like a seed.
This safeguards the cell’s genetic material from the heat and pressure of manufacturing processes, stomach acid and bile. Once it is inside the small intestine, the viable spore is then able to germinate and produce new vegetative cells or ‘good’ bacteria.
In contrast, traditional probiotic organisms such as lactobacillus, acidophilus and bifidobacteria are not able to form these protective spores, making them vulnerable to heat, pressure and acidity and typically restricting their use to short shelf-life chilled foods.
World’s first probiotic wrap
Ganeden, which has recently worked with Cedar’s Mediterranean Foods to create what it claims is the world’s first probiotic wrap and hommus, said BC30 was now in more than 50 functional foods from Red Mango Yogurt to Naked Pizza, Bigelow Teas and Dairy Balance milk from Foster Farms Dairy.
Under the deal with Schiff Nutrition, Ganeden will also receive royalties on Schiff products containing BC30.