This comes after Cosmic Concord Corp. Ltd, functional ingredients business unit of 3C Group, has signed an agreement with UK-based Clasado Biosciences for exclusive distribution rights of the latter’s proprietary prebiotic ingredient Bimuno GOS and its direct-to-consumer (D2C) product, Bimuno Original, in the Thai market.
The partnership marks Clasado’s expansion into the emerging nutra sector in Asia-Pacific, as well as 3C Group’s mounting efforts for prebiotic development in Thailand.
“Although the concept of prebiotics was introduced in Thailand more than 10 years ago, most manufacturers and consumers mainly think of prebiotics as ‘good fibres for the gut’. They are also more familiar with common types, such as inulin, fructo-oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides.
“Bimuno, which contains galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), has been marketed in the country for a few years, but only in niche segments like infant formula. There is not much focus on innovative prebiotic ingredients here. In fact, there is a lot more attention on probiotics than prebiotics, with the former showing visibly stronger growth,” Nuttapon Songpornprasert, CEO of 3C Group, told NutraIngredients-Asia.
While probiotic products are widely available in Thailand, the high prevalence of constipation and gut-related conditions remains a long-standing problem to address.
As such, 3C Group is continuously seeking new ingredients from across the globe to develop products that improve the gut health of the local population.
In the initial phase, the firm has identified children as its target consumer group.
“Parents are very careful in selecting products — they want to know what kind of ingredients go inside a formulation. Premium and science-backed ingredients are important for mothers to pick up a product. Compared to other prebiotics in the market, Bimuno is unique because GOS has a similar structure as breast milk.
“Breast milk is known to have high levels of various nutrients, including GOS. This is why we have chosen to focus on child nutrition for a start. Bimuno has been extensively studied for its effects on gastrointestinal, immune, and cognitive functions, with its safety and efficacy supported by more than 20 clinical trials.”
In addition, Songpornprasert noted that as Thai children tend to lack fibre and vegetables in their diet, he hopes Bimuno-fortified products could help improve constipation and digestive problems in this group.
Other categories that the firm is looking at include immunity and healthy ageing.
“After COVID-19, people are looking for ingredients that really help with immunity, and probiotics is one of those categories. For us, our approach is to adopt the synbiotic concept. Studies have shown that Bimuno works well when combined with probiotics. With synbiotics, we will focus on enhancing immunity and gut health of the seniors.
“However, synbiotic formulations can be very challenging to develop because the manufacturing conditions have to be well controlled for probiotics and prebiotics to be used together, and for the product to maintain high stability till the end of shelf life.”
To overcome these challenges, the firm plans to partner key market leaders to develop a finished product, with the aim of launching it by the end of this year or early Q1 next year.
Long-term success over short-term results
Apart from distribution of ingredients, 3C Group also provides ODM services based on individual clients’ product positioning.
“When we target children, we need to think about how to apply an ingredient like Bimuno in a product so that they would want to take it. If it does not have a nice flavour or if it tastes like medicine, they will not eat or drink it again after trying once.
“Thus, taste and product format are areas that we are focusing on. One example is powder sachets. Bimuno itself is tasteless, so it’s easy to add into other foods. For instance, you can mix the powder into a dish or drink that the kid likes,” said Songpornprasert.
For adults, the powder could be added to drinking water. Instead of sugar sachets, consumers could also add the powder to a beverage for greater functional benefits.
“Functional beverages is another growing category in Thailand. We are looking to work with a big beverage firm to create Bimuno-infused functional drinks. Bimuno has a strong advantage over probiotics in beverage application due to its stability.”
According to Songpornprasert, the firm’s primary market for Bimuno will be Thailand for now, though many of its clients have presence across APAC.
“For a new product, market growth is dependent on how effective it is. It is crucial to market the right benefits. We believe that by working with the right partners to market Bimuno in the [premium] segment, we can raise awareness of it. And when consumers experience effects that meet their expectations within a certain timeframe, the demand will grow organically.
“Rather than fast success, we are looking at the long term. We expect the prebiotics market to continue growing, and we aim to establish Bimuno as the number one prebiotic and synbiotic formula in the next three to five years.”