French ingredients firm Rhodia Food has developed technology to include beneficial probiotics in a nutritional bar, helping manufacturers to tap two of the biggest trends in healthy eating.
Rhodia's chocolate-coated cereal bar, unveiled first at the IFT show in Chicago in July, contains the company's FloraFIT probiotics along with PuroFIT calcium and FiberFIT soluble fibre ranges.
A search in the Mintel GNPD database revealed only one probiotic-enriched cereal bar launched in the last year - the TopiVital bar from German company Dr Quendt. Yet nutrition bars represent a major growth category for the food industry and are still largely underexploited in western Europe.
"Through a new, patented stabilising system combined with micro-encapsulation, Rhodia has expanded the delivery options for probiotics," said Scott Bush, Rhodia business development director.
He added that the prototype bar has a 12-month shelf life and delivers 1 billion probiotic cultures. Yakult probiotic drinks have 6.5 billion per bottle.
Earlier this year, Rhodia launched two new probiotic blends under its FloraFit range at Vitafoods, one to 'Balance' the intestinal microflora, the other to 'Boost' the immune system. The company says it has supplied strong marketing support with its probiotics brand to clients to help convey the benefits of its strain of bacteria.
The group is, however, in financial difficulty, announcing earlier this month a major restructuring drive, following poor performance resulting in a first-half loss of €150 million and little improvement expected in the last six months of 2003. Chairman and chief executive Jean-Pierre Tirouflet has also resigned.