"Our decision to enter the American market has been to do with timing. Currently the market in the USA for probiotics is very dynamic. There are lots of companies releasing the same thing onto the market all at the same time," Rob Minnee, new business development manager with DSM's food specialties division, told NutraIngredientsUSA.com.
Lafti probiotics have been available as dietary supplements since mid 2003 throughout Europe and as an inclusion in food since 2002. The decision to enter the US therefore comes at a time when the market has become increasingly competitive.
He added: "The US market is different to the European market in that it is a lot more competitive. The American public tend to need specific claims on the benefits of probiotics. In Europe people generally are a lot more knowledgeable about this subject."
In 2003, the total European probiotics market comprising the four main application areas - dairy, animal feed, supplements and infant nutrition - was estimated at $40.3 million, with the US market valued at $143.9 million, according to Frost & Sullivan research. However in the EU, dairy constituted the main human food application, whereas supplements were a much bigger market in the US.
The improved Lafti range is designed to remain stable through shelf life and through the GI tract where they are designed to take effect. A recent FDA survey found that of 25 probiotic products tested, eight contained less than 1 per cent of the claimed number of live bacteria.
These and other studies suggest many probiotic supplements claiming 'guaranteed dose at time of manufacture' provide little health benefit to the consumer as harsh environments during transport, storage and in the GI tract can kill live bacteria.
"The technology behind Lafti second generation probiotoics is complex. The bacterium is coated in a matrix-like shell made up primarily of proteins and starches. This acts as a protective barrier keeping the culture in optimum conditions," explained Minnee.
While DSM is keen to highlight the latest technology used in their product, they also emphasise it will not be to the cost of the consumer.
"Lafti second generation probiotics will be competitively priced. You have to remember that for each relative dosage you are getting a wider range of bacteria for your money. Looked at this way, the product is very fairly priced," added Minnee.
The US probiotics market is expected to more than triple by 2010, to reach $394 million.