CSL targeting further APAC expansion with opening of Singapore office

By Cheryl Tay

- Last updated on GMT

According to APAC CEO John Goebel, CSL has one of the largest cell banks in Europe, containing over 6,000 proprietary probiotic strains. ©Getty Images
According to APAC CEO John Goebel, CSL has one of the largest cell banks in Europe, containing over 6,000 proprietary probiotic strains. ©Getty Images

Related tags Probiotics maternal nutrition Infant nutrition

Italian probiotics firm Centro Sperimentale del Latte (CSL) is looking to drive further APAC growth and reinforce its presence in the region, having recently opened an office in Singapore.

The company, which has been in operation since 1948 and was acquired by biotech network Sacco System in 2013, is known for its extensive R&D in the area of probiotics.

It currently has APAC industry partners in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Brunei, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China.

Potential for probiotics everywhere

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia​, CSL APAC CEO John Goebel said: "We work with brand owners across markets in South East Asia, but also in East Asia and Oceania. There are still a couple of countries we consider white space, but it's just a matter of time before we get there.

"Which markets we enter or expand in is driven a lot by the brand owners we work with. They reach out to us, as we have the advantage of a strong reputation across Europe and more recently, in the APAC region. This lends us the recognition brand owners are looking for, along with our extensive history.

"So when brand owners — be they from Thailand, China, Australia or the Philippines —  are looking for a world-class manufacturer, we have the substantial history and portfolio to fill that role."

Support network for better knowledge

Goebel also broached the topic of both consumer understanding and industry knowledge of probiotics and their impact on different areas of gut health.

"The level of understanding of probiotics and the gut microbiome differs across markets, so it's important that we can customise our approach to suit the needs, preferences and awareness of each market."

He added that based on his long-term experience working in the APAC market, consumer understanding and expectations were constantly evolving, and that CSL played an important part in helping businesses fill gaps in knowledge.

"As a B2B company, we always support our clients by understanding consumer needs and providing resources through seminars and research.

"We have quite a lot of interest in the immune system, and we see a lot of potential when it comes to the health of the mother and how that relates to the health of the child.

“Of course, it's not the only area for development, but we see it as a very strong category for R&D.

"The gut-brain axis is another interesting area of research, and we are well-placed to explore that. But we will always look at any area in which we can advance our R&D and discover new things."

However, he opted to keep any upcoming research projects, launches, and industry partnerships confidential for the time being.

No strain, no gain

According to Goebel, CSL has one of the largest cell banks in Europe, containing over 6,000 proprietary probiotic strains.

He said: "The ability for us to develop further proprietary strains in innovative formulations is vast.For instance, we have a very interesting strain developed around upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) in children, Lactobacillus rhamnosus CRL1505, which has very strong clinical research behind it.

"A lot of sickness events in children aged two to five happen because of URTI, and L. rhamnosus CRL1505 has shown extensive benefits in reducing the number of sick days from school children in this age range need, as well as their incidences of URTI."

The study, published in 2018​, reported that the strain — originally isolated from goat's milk — when consumed in yoghurt, resulted in "significantly fewer infections"​ in the supplemented group of children, with 34% showing infection symptoms compared to 66% in the control group.

There was also a lower incidence of URTI, pharyngitis, tonsillitis and acute diarrhoea in the supplemented group, with 69% of URTI cases, 72% of pharyngitis and tonsillitis cases, and 74% of acute diarrhoea cases seen in the placebo group.

Goebel further revealed that over 20% of CSL's workforce was dedicated to R&D, calling the company's partnerships with universities "symbiotic relationships" ​and ranking them "among the most important alliances" ​it had.

"Thanks to all this, we've done some great research and work for Coeliac sufferers, and consumers who have gluten sensitivity, by exploring how probiotics can benefit them and help them to better manage their condition and daily needs."

At present, CSL manufactures its probiotics at its four facilities in Italy, from which they are exported through a network of logistics partners used by the firm itself and its industry partners.

"They keep our products refrigerated at optimal temperatures during transport. That way, they arrive in a pristine condition and our clients can be assured of their quality," ​said Goebel.

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