Probi’s Lactiplantibacillus plantarum HEAL9 has been approved by the Thai FDA and is now included in the country’s positive list of probiotics strains that could be used in foods and supplements.
Prior to this, the firm already has two proprietary probiotic strains accepted by the Thai FDA.
They are Lactiplantibacillus plantarum HEAL19 approved in autumn last year and the firm’s flagship Lactiplantibacillus plantarum 299v (LP299V) used in the firm’s digestive health concept Probi Digestis.
Probi Digestis has been commercialised in Thailand via a partnership with DKSH about two years ago.
With the approval of Lactiplantibacillus plantarum HEAL9, the firm will be able to introduce its formulation concepts for bone and immune health – known as Probi Osteo and Probi Defendum – into Thailand. The goal is to launch products formulated with these two concepts in the upcoming 12 months.
Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, Karen Ong, head of Asia-Pacific at Probi, said that bone health is an emerging territory for probiotics and was an area that the firm could capitalise on amid a crowded probiotic sector dominated by digestive and immune health products.
"No matter how you view it, immunity will be one of the top health concerns that consumers are interested in, and it’s also what probiotics are known for, aside from digestive health.
“And because probiotics is known for that, I think that is also a very crowded space. You've had a lot of players trying to vie for a slice of that pie.
“So for us, we need to look for opportunities beyond these benefit areas and we found that in bone health, although it is not as big a market as immunity and digestive health is, but it is definitely something interesting for us.
"Bone health is also an area that Probi has a competitive advantage in because we are strong in it, and our claims around our strains benefiting bone health are evidence-based.
“We feel that in time to come, it is another area that will be growing rapidly.”
Thai market performance
Probi LP, a digestive health probiotic brand owned and distributed by DKSH, is the only finished product sold in Thailand that contains Probi’s probiotic strains.
According to Ong, it has seen double digit sales growth within a year of its launch in 2021. The product is sold in platforms such as pharmacies and medical channels.
“What we saw from data from our partner is that it is undergoing a strong double digit growth last year over the year before.
“This is an encouraging sign for us, but because we entered the market late, we got to give the product more time to catch up as well.”
Last year, the firm also partnered DKSH in launching probiotic products for bone health and iron absorption in Singapore.
Probi started its Asia-Pacific sales office about five years ago.
Within South East Asia, Thailand, together with Malaysia and Vietnam, are the three biggest markets for Probi.
“Definitely we find the Thai market interesting. We would want to make our presence felt even more than what it is now, that is why HEAL9’s approval is exciting and interesting for us, because it paves the way for more concepts to be introduced.
“Probi also has other new strains in the pipeline that we are developing or partner strains that we work with or license from, and we are beginning to speak with different stakeholders in Thailand to gauge the interest as well," said Ong.
In the case of the entire APAC, the firm’s largest markets lie in Australia, South Korea, and China – which she said was expected to be the biggest probiotic market in time to come.