Growing in APAC: Swedish probiotic firm Probi expands China market via new deal with Sinopharm Foreign Trade

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Probi is partnering Sinopharm Foreign Trade in launching new probiotics products. ©Getty Images
Probi is partnering Sinopharm Foreign Trade in launching new probiotics products. ©Getty Images

Related tags Probiotics China Immunity

Swedish probiotic firm Probi is expanding its presence in APAC via a new deal with China National Pharmaceutical Foreign Trade Corporation (Sinopharm Foreign Trade).

Established in 1981, Sinopharm Foreign Trade is a wholly-owned subsidiary of China National Pharmaceutical Group Corporation, also widely known as Sinopharm – one of the China companies that have successfully developed COVID-19 vaccines.

Under the partnership, Sinopharm Foreign Trade will be launching probiotic products for immune health, bone health, and iron absorption with probiotic strains backed by Probi’s research and clinical data.

The probiotics will be launched under a new brand.

Probi’s bone health portfolio currently consists of Probi Osteo, which combines the proprietary strains Lactiplantibacillus plantarum ​HEAL9, Lactiplantibacillus plantarum ​HEAL 19, and Lacticaseibacillus paracasei ​8700:2.

The combination claims to support bone health, maintain bone density and mineral content, support balance in natural bone remodelling.

In a trial​ involving 249 early postmenopausal women over 12 months, supplementation of Probi Osteo has shown that it could reduce bone loss and support strong, healthy bones.

As for iron health, Probi’s portfolio consists of Probi FerroSorb, which combines the proprietary strain Lactiplantibacillus plantarum ​299v with a small amount of iron.

Findings of a randomised controlled trial published in Nutrients​ last year showed that the strain, together with 20mg of iron, could improve iron status more rapidly as compared to the intake of 20mg of iron alone.

For immune health, the company's portfolio consists of Probi Defendum, which combines Lactiplantibacillus plantarum ​HEAL9 and Lacticaseibacillus paracasei ​8700:2 strains.

“The products have clinically documented positive effects and will be introduced under a new brand to expand Sinopharm Foreign Trade’s existing supplement portfolio,” Zhang ​Jian Ge, Director Pharmaceutical & Chemical Division of Sinopharm Foreign Trade said on the partnership with Probi.

Sinopharm currently sells health foods including fish oil, coenzyme Q10, and vitamin E via its subsidiary Sinopharm Xingsha Pharmaceutical. The products are all blue-hat certified.

Sinopharm Xingsha Pharmaceutical also sealed a probiotic business deal with Japan firm Morishita Jintan last year, where it became the latter’s general agent in China​ in distributing probiotics under the brand Bifina.

On the other hand, Probi believes that the partnership can further establish its position in APAC.

“The partnership between Probi and Sinopharm Foreign Trade is an important step in our commercial efforts in offering clinically documented probiotic products to consumers all over the world, and our expansion into China is a good step forward in establishing Probi’s position in the APAC region,” ​says Tom Rönnlund, CEO at Probi.

At the moment, South Korea is the company’s largest market in APAC, Rönnlund said in response to queries from NutraIngredients-Asia.

He added that the company’s ClinBac offering, which spans across digestive, immune, iron absorption, and bone health, has been receiving industry attention and positive feedback in the APAC region.

As for research, he said that the company has been evaluating the opportunity to conduct clinical trials in China.

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