Filling a gap: Sinopharm, Probi join hands in developing sports nutrition for bone, joint health

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

A senior woman taking protein shake. ©Getty Images
A senior woman taking protein shake. ©Getty Images

Related tags Probiotics Sports nutrition Gut health Probi Sinopharm

Sinopharm Foreign Trade and Probi AB have developed a new sports nutrition product for supporting bone and joint health, targeting especially seniors who would like to maintain an active lifestyle.

The new product, which will be launched under the brand Oyfusion, or Yue Le Wei (悦乐维) in Chinese, contains Probi’s probiotic blend marketed as Probi®​Osteo. 

It combines three probiotic strains Lactiplantibacillus plantarum ​HEAL9 (HEAL9™), Lactiplantibacillus plantarum​ HEAL19, and Lacticaseibacillus paracasei​ 8700:2, and has been clinically shown to support bone health – including increasing bone density and lowering the risk of osteoporosis.

This is the first sports nutrition probiotic product that the Swedish probiotic supplier is developing with Sinopharm Foreign Trade.

Sinopharm Oyfusion
Sinopharm-Oyfusion is the latest product collaboration between Sinopharm and Probi.

Prior to this, however, the two companies already have a working relationship in areas such as raw materials distribution and have also developed products under other brands.

An example is CareBree launched in November 2022. This is a solid beverage containing probiotics for supporting iron absorption in women and pregnant women. Other products launched include bone health probiotic GetRock targeted at adults over 50 years old and Feelgoo for supporting immunity. 

The duo’s latest collaboration, a solid beverage, is designed to relieve joint pain and speed up exercise recovery.

It is also formulated with a plant selenium complex supplied by Jiangsu Selenium Research, as selenium has been shown to produce anti-inflammatory effects. 

“There is a gap in China’s nutrition market for a product that can support seniors who want to lead an active lifestyle, who still do some exercises like jogging etc, and want to age actively by looking after their health,​ Karen Ong, head of APAC at Probi told NutraIngredients-Asia. 

In fact, bone health, especially osteoporosis, is one of the topmost health concerns among Chinese consumers.

The prevalence of osteoporosis in China​ among people aged 40 to 49 was 3.2 percent, and the figure had increased to 19.2 percent among people over 50 years old, an epidemiological survey of osteoporosis in 2018 found.

China’s exceptional demand for bone health related products is also reported by consumer health giant Haleon.

In its Q1 financial results​, Haleon highlighted that revenue from its calcium supplement brand Caltrate was up double digit, with strong growth seen in China.

Interest in probiotics for bone health across APAC

Aside from China, Ong notices that South Korea is another market with growth potential for probiotics supporting bone health.

A reason is because South Korean consumers have good understanding of probiotics and how its benefits extend beyond gut health.

India, on the other hand, is an emerging market for this segment. 

While the public has limited knowledge of probiotics, there are pockets of Indian consumers who possess good understanding and purchasing power for probiotics products.

In the industry, Ong noted that interests in probiotics for bone health in India is coming not just from regional firms, but also local firms as well.

“I will say that India is a very big market that is quite diverse in terms of how it is segmented.

“On the one hand, it has a huge population, but on the other hand, we also know that there are selected groups of consumers or patients who can afford something like a probiotic.

“Generally, among this group of consumers in India, the awareness around what probiotics can do for them is higher. India is a market that has a wide spectrum of awareness around what probiotics can do,”​ she said.

Other opportunities in China

Probiotics formulated into functional foods, as well as probiotics for gut health, cognitive function and mood, and metabolic health are some of the other areas that have strong growth potential in China.

Ong said that the company has been seeing more food companies that are interested in creating functional food and beverages.

Part of the reason is because consumers are keen in general food products that could confer certain health benefits. One of the partners that Probi is working with, for instance, is China’s major dairy firm Mengniu.

Increasingly, we're going into the functional food areas as well. This is an area that offers a faster speed to market as compared to products that have to undergo the blue-hat health foods registration.”

The other opportunity, she pointed out, was through cross-border e-commerce (CBEC). This allows products in traditional supplements formats such as capsules and tablets to be sold into China without going through the blue-hat registration. 

On the other hand, although probiotics for gut health are well-established in the market, Ong still sees room for growth in this area, as well as in the emerging areas of mood and metabolic health.

“All probiotics categories have very good growth potential in China given the size of the market.

“We still see a huge space for growth for our star product, LP299V, which is a probiotic strain for gut health and is also the strain that we are most known for.

“The second one is in the area of cognitive health. I think post-COVID, mental health has gained a lot of awareness and interest,” ​she said, adding that the company had launched Probi®​Sensia that has been shown to support cognitive function, balance mood states, and promote restful sleep.

“We launched Probi®​Sensia late last year, but we already have a lot of ongoing discussions with various companies big and small, in and outside of China,” ​she said. 

Metabolic health, which spans across conditions such as high blood glucose levels, high cholesterol levels, and obesity, is also an area that the company is potentially researching on.

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