Buddy up: Synbiotic flavoured water from Aussie start-up seeks to address lack of gut health products for toddlers

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Tummy Buddies' range of synbiotics flavoured water designed for young children. ©Tummy Buddies
Tummy Buddies' range of synbiotics flavoured water designed for young children. ©Tummy Buddies

Related tags Prebiotics postbiotics Probiotics synbiotics

Tummy Buddies, a start-up from Australia, has created a range of synbiotics flavoured water designed to address what it perceives as a lack of gut health products for toddlers.

Currently consisting of four SKUs, the range is made of berry, tropical, pineapple, and apple-flavoured water that undergoes pasteurisation before synbiotics in the form of powder are added.

Each bottle, sold at AUD$3 (US$1.96), does not make any health claims but terms such as “Probiotics + Prebiotics + Postbiotics” could be found on the label of the bottle.

The products, which are available in 60 health foods stores such as QE Food Stores across New South Wales, are also given a full five-star health rating by Food Standards Australia New Zealand. Each bottle, which comes with a pop-top packaging, has a shelf life of 18 months and does not require refrigeration. 

Co-founded by George Assaf and skincare expert Rita Sellars, Tummy Buddies was set up to address the lack of digestive health products for young children.

“We could see that there was probiotics and prebiotics used in baby formula. And then there's probiotics gummies for kids that are four, five, or six years old, but there was nothing in between the infant and four-year-old stage,”​ said Sellars.

The toddler stage is also the period when young children are exposed to new types of foods for the first time, which she believes is a crucial time for synbiotics supplementation.  

“We wanted something to maintain gut health and gut digestion because at six months, young children are exposed to solid foods, other sugars, they're starting to try out different types of foods.

“That's when the gut flora starts to get affected and we wanted to complement and supplement their gut flora with these products,” ​she said.

Key ingredients in the product include a million CFU of Bacillus subtilis ​as probiotics, indigestible oligosaccharides and fibres as prebiotics, fruit and plant extracts such as chlorophyll that serves as food colouring and flavouring. The postbiotics used were inanimate Bacillus subtilis​, she added.

While the duo has experimented with other formats such as juice and gummies, they have decided on flavoured water as there is no added sugar unlike juice and could serve as a means of hydration for young kids.

“When we initially looked at the concept of synbiotics, we considered gummies but one of the things that a lot of parents were saying to us was that they didn't like giving their kids gummies because of the sugar level.

“And so, we wanted to have something that parents could give their kids as soon as they're able to drink liquids other than milk,” ​she explained.

“We wanted to make a unique product. The juice sector is too saturated,” ​added Assaf.

Also, flavoured water is unique in the probiotics and synbiotics functional foods space which is currently dominated by dairy products, such as probiotic milk and yogurt.

Other than health food stores, Assaf said that the products were also sold in cafes, pharmacies, and via its website.

Further down the road, the company plans to develop probiotics products in the form of fruit bites and gummies. Its new product development process is conducted with both ingredient suppliers and a team of food technologists. 

“We will have gummies down the track, that’s definitely something in the pipeline. But I think for the launch and for the start of the brand, we wanted something that is easy for moms to put in lunchboxes, no choking hazard, and is hydrating,” said Sellars.

“We also have fruit bites that we have already formulated and that’s going to be the next stage for our products,”​ added Assaf.

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