Danisco is launching a new protobiotic fortification for milk products in North America, which targets the market for immune-boosting children's products.
The company claims that, while the addition of probiotics to milk may not be new, the use of its Howaru Protect blend can meet consumer demand for nutritious products designed to help protect against illnesses like runny nose, fever and coughs in children.
The blend was the latest addition to the Danish firm's Howaru range, introduced in Europe in March this year. The range - a series of target-specific probiotic strains - has grown in strength over the last few years, according to the firm.
Danisco says that combining the clinically tested benefits of its own probiotic range with the more nutritious benefits of milk is an important way to add value to a commodity that is becoming increasingly expensive across the globe.
A group spokesperson said that protecting children against illnesses from flu and cold symptoms could 'revitalize' the practice of probiotic-fortification in staple food and drink products amidst unwavering consumer demand.
"The addition of Howaru premium probiotics to milk provides additional value to consumers of milk-based products," stated the spokesperson. "A value that we feel consumers now desire as seen by market data in the US and globally showing the double-digit growth for probiotic containing foods."
Howaru Protect can be used either in plain or flavoured milks, according to the company
Though the milk probiotic blend is being launched directly towards North American consumers, Danisco added that its Howaru probiotic range is available around the world for use in dairy, food and supplement formulation.\
Danisco's claims regarding the potential immune system benefits of combining the probiotic with milk have been backed by a double-blinded, placebo controlled protocol study.
The trials, which were funded by Danisco, were carried out by independent research organisations, according to the group.
Findings from these tests suggested that Howaru Protect had helped cut wintertime respiratory tract infections in children after a daily dose of the probiotic, Danisco said.
Probiotic milk demand
Danisco's plan to launch the blend comes after Morinaga Milk last year announced it too was pushing into the American probiotic market due to fast growth for the use of functional ingredients in the country.
By 2011, sales of functional dairy drinks across the markets of West Europe, United States and Japan are projected to reach 1,600 million litres and €6,250m ($9,848m) in value by 2011, according to market analyst Zenith international.
Zenith's 2007 Functional Dairy Drinks report said Western Europe is by far the largest of the three markets, seeing strong double figure growth in 2006. Europeans account for just over 56 per cent of the market.
The US is experiencing year on year growth of around 50 per cent, albeit from a low base. America accounts for just 1.8 per cent of the market. Japan's volume share is "slowly being eroded", the report added.
However, Zenith identified some difficulties ahead for the traditional global probiotic market, with sales of yoghurt shots enriched with the ingredient declining in some markets.