“The one thing you often hear people say when you ask them about probiotics is, ‘I know they’re good for me but I hate yogurt and I’m not good at taking supplements’,” says Mike Bush, senior VP at Ganeden Biotech - the Ohio-based company behind ultra-resilient probiotic BC30 (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086).
“So we need to get them into products that fit into their lifestyle. Things that they already eat habitually, because our goal is to make sure that people have a probiotic every day,” he told FoodNavigator-USA.
“We’ve had a lot of interest from companies in the sports nutrition area, but the biggest opportunity is in the healthy active adult market.”
Snacking is a huge area of untapped opportunity
So where are the most exciting new application areas?
As BC30 can be boiled, baked, frozen, pasteurized, microwaved and extruded and go on to survive stomach acid and move to the gut where it starts multiplying and proliferating, it has opened up a raft of food applications previously closed to probiotics, from hot tea and coffee to muffins, jam, soup, frozen yogurts and HPP-treated juices, he said.
But snacking - something most of us do on a daily basis - is an area of untapped opportunity, said Bush. “We’ve done a lot of work on nutrition bars, with companies such as Credible Cravings, plus popsicles such as Ruby Rocket’s Fruit and Vegetable Pops [Click HERE], and probiotic yogurt-coated nuts and dried fruits for trail mix, but there are lots of other applications.
“We’re also doing a bunch of work on snack cheeses, fruit roll-ups and whole-wheat grahams right now. They are great for kids’ lunchboxes. Crackers can be tricky, as there is a leavening process involved, but some of the sprouted grain crackers that are not so heavily leavened are a great opportunity.”
People that do eat breakfast often eat the same thing every day
Another under-exploited opportunity is breakfast, he said.
“People that eat breakfast often eat the same thing every day, so if we can get a probiotic into frozen pancakes, waffles, or English muffins, it’s a really easy way to allow people to incorporate probiotics into their lifestyle without changing their habits.
“We’re currently working with a company making oatmeal, but there is so much more we could go after in this space.”
You never can tell until you get something into the hands of the consumer
But not everything has worked, he freely admits, citing hummus as an example.
“We really thought this is going to be a killer application, but we didn’t see a ton of pick-up. It could be that it was just too early, though. You never can tell until you get something into the hands of the consumer.”
If you have a lousy product, adding probiotics just means you now have a lousy product with probiotics
But can - and should - probiotics be put into anything and everything? And will slapping ’now with probiotics’ on the front of your pack reverse your brand’s flagging fortunes?
No, no and no, said Bush. First of all, some application areas are still challenging for technical reasons (“shelf-stable drinks are our Achilles heel”). Second, adding probiotics does not make junk food healthy food, and third, if you have a lousy product, adding probiotics just means you now have a lousy product with probiotics.
Ganeden’s most successful customers, he added, already have great products and brands; Ganeden BC30 makes them even better.
There is no shortage of well-capitalized firms in the natural food and beverage space
Ganeden BC30 is now in more than 100 products including KeVita sparkling probiotic drinks, Red Mango Yogurt, Great Grains Cereal, Garden of Flavor Juices and Bigelow Teas, said Bush, who said his firm’s year-on-year sales growth continued to be “spectacular”.
“We work with a mixture of very large and very small companies, including some very fast-moving firms in the natural foods space. There is no shortage of well-capitalized firms in this area.”
And many of them are already on the radar of some of the biggest legacy food brands, he observed, which means a small customer could one day become a far larger one.
You have to have the right dose
The resilience of Ganeden BC30 - a patented organism that is FDA-GRAS and backed by 18 published studies - 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.
As for claims, some customers want to talks about digestive health, some are more interested in immune health and some just want to use a probiotic that is branded, recognized and trusted, he said.
“But we make it clear you have to have the right dose. GanedenBC30 has been shown to support immune health at 500 million CFUs (colony forming units) and digestive health at one billion CFUs.”