Happy gut for a happy mind: Fonterra and Sun Genomics launch ‘Project Happy’

By Teodora Lyubomirova

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Probiotics Gut health microbiome Non-Dairy

The two firms will initiate a clinical trial to see if consumers experience increased levels of happiness after taking NZMP’s dairy-free probiotic strain.

Sun Genomics, the creator of precision probiotic Floré, has teamed up with Fonterra’s ingredient-solutions brand NZMP to further their research into the health benefits of the Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus HN001 probiotic strain.

Beginning September 1, the companies are launching a six-week trial that follows on the heels of a pilot study, which featured 47 Floré customers who rated their happiness levels through the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire.

The follow-up will be a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial and is set to feature around 120 participants. Its aim is to validate the results of the pilot, which found that after 60 days of consuming a probiotic formulation, the participants’ mean happiness score increased.

“The study will be run to a high standard, and we will use an independent statistician to n the statistical analyses,”​ said Maher Fuad, research clinician at Fonterra. “The probiotics used are dairy-free to allow the inclusion of diet-diverse participants, including vegan. As with the original study, this trial excludes any participant with a diagnosed medical condition.”

He added: “We already have preliminary evidence that our HN001 probiotic strain may improve mood and reduce stress. For instance, when given to women during pregnancy, HN001 reduced the risk of postpartum depression and anxiety. In addition, pre-clinical studies have shown that HN001 may influence some of the molecular pathways known to be involved in the gut-brain axis.”

Why probiotics?

The global probiotics market size was valued at US$58.17bn in 2021 and according to Grand View Research, is expected to expand at 7.5% annually until 2030. 

A major spike in global demand occurred during the pandemic in 2020, when a Natural Marketing Institute survey recorded that probiotic consumption increased by 66% in the US, 188% in Italy and 108% in China.

But market growth is fuelled more generally by consumer awareness in probiotics’ positive role in preventative healthcare and the supplements’ desirable effects on gut health.

Mental health benefits are now increasingly being considered, too. NZMP recently surveyed more than 1,000 US adults through Caravan, and of the 37% of respondents who reported having stress and mood issues, 18% said that they currently took probiotics to help with this, and 65% said that they would consider it.

Neal Gidvani, chief operating officer of Sun Genomics, reflected: “By uncovering powerful responses to novel probiotic strains, such as a boost in happiness levels, we are adding significant value to our current approach. Ultimately, this allows us to grow our consumer offering and help more people than ever before.”

Related topics Ingredients Fonterra

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