Australian probiotics innovation could fortify dairy industry

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 16th January 2012

A Brisbane-based start-up food technology company says it has developed the world’s first non-fermented, multi-strain probiotic milk and juice and is ready to introduce it to the market.

The company, Progel, used a AU$250,000 Commercialisation Australia grant to commercialise an encapsulation technology developed by Professor Bhesh Bhandari at University of Queensland‘s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences.

Progel says the technology will also enable the creation of omega-3 milk and juice with up to four times the omega-3 of existing omega-3 milks, but without the fishy smell and taste.

Professor Bhandari said that omega-3 and probiotics have been selected to test the technology as they have widely accepted health benefits and broad consumer awareness, but are currently only available in a small number of foods or as supplements.

Professor Bhandari said, “Adding probiotics to manufactured dairy and juice products can improve digestion and general gut health, and boost the immune system. However, such products are not currently possible, as milk and juice products with probiotics go sour within days.

“The key advantage of Progel ingredients is that they don’t affect the quality, texture, taste or smell of the product.”

The global food encapsulation technology market, driven by health food and children’s food markets which include dairy and juice products, will reach US$22.7 billion by 2014. This represents a compound growth rate of more than seven per cent.

Progel’s CEO, Cameron Turner said, “Progel will partner with Australian and international food and ingredient manufacturers to evaluate the commercial viability of Progel’s encapsulation technology, and co-develop new products with levels of probiotics and omega-3 not currently available in milk and juice products.

“If it’s successful here, Progel will join a long list of Australian food innovations exported to manufacturers around the world,” Mr Turner.