The deal, which follows a licensing agreement entered into in July this year by Danone and Skånemejerier, sees Danone acquiring 51 per cent of shares in ProViva AB, which was until now a subsidiary of Skånemejerier.
With the close of the deal late yesterday, Probi also ended its probiotic supply agreement with the Swedish firm and replaced it with two new licensing agreements with Danone. The first is for the Swedish and Finish markets, and the second for international markets excluding North America.
Currently, ProViva is only sold in Sweden and Finland. Since its launch in Sweden in 1994, the brand has seen year-on-year growth. Last year it grew around 7 per cent to reach retail sales of approximately 600m SEK (€65m), said Michael Oredsson, CEO of Probi. The Finish market for the brand is, by comparison, “miniscule”, he said, coming in at less than 5 per cent of Swedish sales.
However, brand awareness in Sweden is close to 100 per cent. “The success of the brand is a combination of its good taste and its efficacy – it has a really noticeable effect with improving gut health,” said Oredsson. “Its pricing is also quite attractive – it is premium but not super-premium, and it’s good value for money.”
The firms now intends to take the product international, with launches expected within the coming years.
“No dates have been disclosed as yet, but the intention is to move forward within the next few years market by market.”
Health claim application
Oredsson told NutraIngredients.com that an important trigger for Danone to take the brand into Europe will be a health claim application, which the firm expects to submit “in the near future”.
“Probi and Danone have a common interest in making ProViva an international success and we are already cooperating on the health claim application for Lp299v, the probiotic strain in ProViva.”
In July, a Danone spokesperson told NutraIngredients.com that the company had bought into ProViva because it was interested in the probiotic fruit technology and the Swedish market.
The firm was moving into fruit because, "fruit was a good vector for health products".
"It makes sense given our health mission,” she said.