As health-minded consumers continue to boost sales of probiotic beverages, many companies with an interest in live probiotics are limited by the refrigeration the cultures require. This hurdle often means tighter expiration dates and keeps brands out of some big distributor portfolios.
However, biotech company Ganeden thinks it’s found a solution for brands looking to add probiotics to shelf-stable products. At Natural Products Expo West 2017, the company announced the soft launch of Staimune, a new ingredient that finally gets around the refrigeration issue that Ganeden president Michael Bush called “the Achilles’ heel of probiotics.”
According to Bush, Staimune is made from the deactivated cell walls of its popular GanedenBC30 probiotic. Because it is not live, Staimune is not technically a probiotic. Although it lacks the digestive benefits, Bush said the cell wall still delivers the immune system boost of BC30. Moreover, it can be mixed directly into a beverage and remain on the shelf, unrefrigerated for months.
“Because there are no live cells, you can put the product into shelf-stable beverages, into high temperature products, retort, you name it,” Bush told BevNET. “There’s really no environment you couldn’t put them into.”
With a release slated for later this summer, Ganeden will run another human test trial in April on Staimune’s immune boosting capabilities, with data expected to be ready by June. Ganeden has been developing the ingredient for about four years, Bush said, and has been teasing its launch for some time. Several beverage companies have new products queued up, waiting for Staimune to hit the market, Bush said.
“When you look at some of the international markets where they don’t have cold shipping, no matter what you do,” Bush said. “This opens up opportunities in Latin America, in particular, for products.”
Although Ganeden expects high demand for Staimune, a handful of beverage producers have already found workarounds for shelf-stable products. Karma Wellness Water debuted three new flavors of its probiotic line at Expo West, featuring GanedenBC30 in a patented “push cap” that keep the probiotics separate from the beverage. JUS by Julie similarly released a line of shots with their own model of push cap, as well as line of probiotic mixing powders.
Ganeden also offers its customers a line of disposable straws that contain probiotics as another way for companies to put out non-refrigerated BC30 drinks. The straws, as well as Staimune, are particularly useful for the children’s beverage market, Bush said, a category where immunity-boosting products are in high demand.
“For the probiotic industry in general, we just don’t see any slowdown,” Bush said. “It’s running along at a very nice clip, and probiotic functional foods are growing like crazy; SKU counts are going up. Even the supplement business is continuing to grow at a very rapid rate.”