Thursday, January 12th, 2012 - Progel Pty Ltd
Progel prepares the world’s first non-fermented, multi-strain probiotic milk and juice for entering the market.

Brisbane-based food technology start-up, Progel Pty Ltd, is set to milk a share of the crowded dairy and juice markets with the world’s first non-fermented, multi-strain probiotic drink products.

Progel is a Brisbane-based start-up initially formed by UniQuest Pty Limited, with investment from UniSeed and Brisbane Angels, to commercialise an encapsulation technology developed Professor Bhesh Bhandari at The University of Queensland‘s (UQ) School of Agriculture and Food Sciences.

A $250,000 Commercialisation Australia grant will be used to commercialise the innovation.

The Progel technology will also enable the creation of omega-3 milk and juice with up to four times the omega-3 of existing omega-3 milks, but without the fishy smell and taste.

The innovative technology uses only safe food ingredients including alginate, commonly used in many foods such as ice cream. Alginate is derived from seaweed and is sustainably harvested.

Professor Bhandari’s research team has already developed prototype probiotic and omega-3 milk and juice products without affecting the products’ taste and smell.

Progel will partner with Australian and international food and ingredient manufacturers to evaluate the commercial viability of Progel’s encapsulation technology, and co-develop new products with levels of probiotics and omega-3 not currently available in milk and juice products.

“Omega-3 and probiotics have been selected to test the technology as they have widely accepted health benefits and broad consumer awareness, but are only available in a small number of foods or as supplements,” explained Professor Bhandari.

“Adding probiotics to manufactured dairy and juice products can improve digestion and general gut health, and boost the immune system. However, such products are not currently possible, as milk and juice products with probiotics go sour within days.

“And even though existing food products fortified with fish-based omega-3 oils only have small amounts added, a residual smell and taste is common.

“The key advantage of Progel ingredients is that they don’t affect the quality, texture, taste or smell of the product, and products containing Progel encapsulated actives may provide sufficient levels of active nutrients to provide a beneficial source of probiotics and omega-3 to consumers,” Professor Bhandari said.

“Probiotic and omega-3 juice products made possible by the Progel technology also include calcium, so they would offer many of the health benefits of calcium, probiotics and omega-3 to consumers who do not regularly consume milk and yoghurt or oily fish.”

The global food encapsulation technology market, driven by health food and children's food markets which include dairy and juice products, has been estimated to reach US$22.7 billion by 2014, at a compound annual growth rate of more than seven percent.

Progel’s CEO, Cameron Turner, believes the company’s new products will help industry partners establish a unique point of difference, offering consumers truly innovative functional products with significant health benefits and primary producers an opportunity to regain market share and profitability for their brands.

“Health-conscious Australian consumers have shown they value products made for their particular needs and tastes, which is why the market has become so competitive,” Mr Turner said.

“Innovative products represent a new opportunity for price premiums and Progel’s products will help improve the bottom line for future-focused milk and juice companies, as well as their associated dairy farmers and fruit growers.

“If it’s successful here, Progel will join a long list of Australian food innovations exported to manufacturers around the world.”

While Progel’s focus is currently on the functional foods market, the technology’s underlying research has opened a window of opportunity to expand the application of encapsulated probiotics and omega-3 oil in a wider range of products, such as pharmaceutical formulations, cosmetics, neutraceuticals, agricultural and aquacultural supplies.

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Progel Pty Ltd

Progel is a low-cost, bulk micro-gel encapsulation method. It can be applied to a number of encapsulation systems which are based on fast cross-linking reactions of polymers. The research has demonstrated that different classes of actives can be microencapsulated with this technology, including living cells, large and small molecules and oils. The encapsulation process protects the active in a simulated acidified stomach environment, and releases the active in a simulated intestinal environment. Progel particles are undetectable to humans, yet protect a range of ingredients and pharmaceutical products from the acidic stomach environment. The particles may be used for oral, pulmonal, ocular, or topical delivery. Applications include functional foods, pharmaceutical formulations, cosmetics, agriculture, and aquaculture. The technology is particularly suited for the protection of actives in aqueous environments.
Cameron Turner
P: +61 437 448 773

UniQuest Pty Limited

Established by The University of Queensland in 1984, UniQuest is widely recognised as one of Australia’s largest and most successful university commercialisation groups, benchmarking in the top tier of technology transfer worldwide. From an intellectual property portfolio of 1,500+ patents it has created over 60 companies, and since 2000 UniQuest and its start-ups have raised more than $400 million to take university technologies to market. Annual sales of products using UQ technology and licensed by UniQuest are running at $3 billion. UniQuest now commercialises innovations developed at The University of Queensland and its commercialisation partner institutions: the University of Wollongong, University of Technology Sydney, James Cook University, University of Tasmania, Mater Medical Research Institute, and Queensland Health. UniQuest also provides access to an expansive and exclusive network of independent academics to tailor a consulting or project R&D solution to meet the diverse needs of industry and government, facilitating some 500 consulting, expert opinion, testing, and contract research services each year. UniQuest is also a leading Australasian provider of international development assistance recognised for excellence in technical leadership, management and research. Working with agencies such as AusAID, NZAID, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, UniQuest has developed and implemented more than 400 projects in 46 countries throughout the Pacific, South-East Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Africa.
Leanne Wyvill
P: +61 7 3365 4037
M: +61 409 767 199


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