The products, which come in sachets, use a mix of probiotic strains that are either developed by the firm itself, or imported from North America, a spokesperson from the firm told NutraIngredients-Asia.
Some of the strains used in the products included Lactobacillus reuteri WHH1689, Lactobacillus plantarum WHH581, which are strains developed by Wahaha itself, while bifidobacterium HN019, Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM, and Lactobacillus helveticus R-52 are imported strains.
Five types of probiotics and three types of prebiotics are used for both children’s and women’s products. The bacteria live count for the product targeted at women claims to number 30 billion.
The product for the elderly claims to help to reduce blood sugar level and promote the absorption of calcium, while the product for women is said to aid detoxification.
“We hope that through the development of health foods, we can introduce quality and affordable functional health foods to more consumers,” the spokesperson said when explaining the firm’s decision to move into probiotics business.
With over 30 years of experience in the beverage business, the spokesperson added that the firm would focus more on healthier products.
“We hope to provide more product choices, at the same time, promote the concept of healthier lifestyle, helping the public to progress from fighting diseases to protecting their health and preventing diseases, and hence, improve their quality of life.”
The firm had previously launched products containing probiotics, including red date yogurt and dairy beverage under the Nutri-express brand.
More cooperation needed
Besides Wahaha, Mengniu, Nongfu Spring and Jun Le Bao are some of the Chinese beverage and dairy firms that have entered the probiotics realm.
Commenting on the state of probiotics development in China, Zhu Hong, deputy CEO and general manager of Jun Le Bao’s research and development centre said that both enterprises and researchers must cooperate to meet consumer demands.
He made the comment during a probiotics summit organised by the Chinese Institute of Food Science and Technology in May this year.
He added that his firm has already nurtured more than 100 types of probiotic strains locally and has entered the World Federation for Culture Collections (WFCC).
The firm is also working with universities to drive cooperation between the industry and researchers, in hopes of advancing the local probiotics development. Peking University and Vanderbilt University from the US are some of the partnering institutions.
China’s probiotics market
According to industry trade body the International Probiotics Association (IPA), China now accounts for almost half of all probiotic sales in Asia-Pacific, at US$8.3bn. The Asia total stands at US$17.5bn, while the global figure is US$42.5bn.
The figures also show that the APAC market is forecast to grow by a CAGR of 8.3% over the next seven years, but China will continue to track higher than the average, with its market value likely to reach US$15bn by 2025.
IPA executive director George Paraskevakos noted recently: "China is now one of the most important players in probiotics at the global level."