Monday, April 22, 2024

New Fonterra partnership to boost probiotic products

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Fonterra has entered into a partnership with biotechnology company VitaKey as it looks to create greater value from probiotic dairy products.
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VitaKey co-founder and MIT professor Dr Robert Langer says the partnership with Fonterra will allow researchers to stabilise and improve the delivery of their probiotic strains to consumers meaning an added health benefit.

Fonterra has entered into a partnership with biotechnology company VitaKey as it looks to create greater value from probiotic dairy products.

Based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States, VitaKey specialises in precision delivery of nutrients to people.

Fonterra Asia Pacific chief executive Judith Swales says the collaboration dovetailed into its new strategy launched in September that outlined its pathway to 2030.

VitaKey will collaborate with Fonterra to look at ways in which it can extend the reach of its probiotics and add more value to Fonterra’s probiotic IP.

“For us it’s a really exciting move in this space,” Swales said.

The partnership would drive its active living business by appealing to consumers concerned with health and wellness.

“Because the nutrients are encapsulated and highly targeted, it also means we can use less milk in our production, making our milk go further while reducing food waste,” she said.

The technology will be applied into powder products Fonterra already makes. Over time, Swales says they hoped to find a way to get the probiotics to exist in liquids.

This would extend the shelf life of these probiotic products and allow them to travel greater distances around the world.

Probiotics helped with immunity and digestion and Fonterra’s research and development centre in Palmerston North had one of the world’s largest dairy culture libraries, containing 40,000 strains.

She says two of these strains, LactoB 001 and BifidoB 019, address key health concerns such as digestive issues and immunity and are recognised as being in the top five global probiotics.

In the short-term, most of the probiotic product creation that emerges from the partnership will be made at that facility.

The first step in the collaboration aims to stabilise probiotics and deliver them to the digestive tract.

VitaKey co-founder and MIT professor Dr Robert Langer says the partnership will allow them to stabilise and improve the delivery of their probiotic strains.

“Simply put, what we’re trying to do is stabilise the probiotics and deliver it to parts of the body where they are needed most to give optimal amounts of nutrition to hopefully improve people’s health and wellness,” Langer said.

“It’s the right amount, in the right place, of the right nutrient, at the right time.”

VitaKey’s delivery technology has already been shown to preserve and enhance 11 different micronutrients, including Vitamin D, A, B12 and C, as well as iron, zinc, niacin, and folic acid.

Fonterra intends to leverage the VitaKey technology across a range of micronutrients, such as Vitamin D and introduce them into its products.

One of Vitakey’s technologies had recently won funding from space agency NASA. The space agency hopes to be able to give probiotics to astronauts for their planned mission to Mars.

As to whether it could be a Fonterra product on that ship that is sent into space, Langer says “anything is possible”.

He says the project was in its early stages and NASA was very excited about it.

Swales expected it will be about five years before commercial applications of the probiotics are available to consumers.

She was, however, tight-lipped on how much money the co-operative had invested in the new partnership, saying it was confidential.

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