It’s late afternoon at the end of the SupplySide West 2012 trade show. Functional Ingredients Editor-in-Chief Todd Runestad sat down with probiotics ingredient supplier Nebraska Cultures’ media director Robbin Shahani and chief operations officer Michael Shahani. The company was showing off its new ProDura strain of spore-forming probiotics, which can withstand food processing conditions, making it easier to work with in food products. Sit down with us for this one.
FI: How’s it going, gentlemen?
RS: Very, very busy. We’ve been exhibiting for 10 years at this trade show and the busiest day ever was yesterday. You mind if I just chat?
FI: I wish you would.
RS: Should I get up?
FI: If you are, at least get us a beer. Michael, probiotics are an evolving ingredient class. Spore-formers are gaining sway in finished food products. They’re certainly easier to formulate with than run-of-the-mill probiotics. True story?
MS: We have a strain of Bacillus coagulans, which is seeing greater availability from ingredient players. We saw it as a niche we could fill. People have been showing a lot of interest in it. A lot of people are asking about it. We have one human clinical with it and we’re about to start another.
FI: What were the end points of those studies?
MS: The first one was a fundamental study—everyone says probiotics are in the body and do good work. How do you know it stays in the body and produces benefits? The answer is you see if anything comes out the other end. We were able to study that our probiotic strain DDS-1 survives in the stomach and some comes out in feces. In addition, it stays around for a few days to a few weeks after ingestion. We kind of knew that would be what it would be, but it’s nice to get confirmation that it persists for a while, though it doesn’t stay around forever.
RS: It stays around for as long as indigenous strains.
MS: That’s the first study. The next one measures DDS-1 on lactose tolerance.
FI: So you can live the lactose lifestyle.
MS: You can have some ice cream if you want.
RS: You have to establish a good count in your life.
MS: If you know you have an issue, you have to regularly take it so you establish consistent levels.
FI: So spore-formers are the best type of probiotics that give entrée to the food world?
RS: The short answer is there are a certain number of characteristics spore formers share—heat stability and extreme resilience.
FI: How long did it take you from ideation to R&D to commercialization?
MS: Eight months, maybe a year? We’ve had it in our portfolio, we just said, “Let’s brand it and get it out there.” It’s manufactured in India. We’re excited about bringing along something new and different for the food and beverage market.
RS: Different customers have different needs. We can accommodate those needs depending on their requirements. This opens us up to whole new avenues of business.
FI: Should be interesting to watch, and to see how food companies are marketing their probiotic inclusion into finished products. Good talking with you guys. Cheers.
How do you see the probiotics market changing? Comment below!