The Swedish company signed its agreement with the Philippine-based pharmaceutical and health care company, Unilab Group.
“Our business model is based on having exclusive distributors in each country and Asia is an area we are not as strong in,” Nigel Titford, business development manager for BioGaia, told FoodNavigator-Asia.
BioGaia is focused on securing market openings across this region and Taiwan is one of these gaps, Titford said.
Taiwan has a well-developed probiotics sector and thus an interesting market, he said, similar to South Korea and Japan; very different from China.
“With the level of science we have, we can do quite well in developed probiotic markets,” he said, and “we want to invest back into science and new products.”
BioGaia implements exclusive distribution deals in each country it is targeting; a strategy that Titford detailed as “very important”. “Long-term partnerships ensure more of a feedback loop which helps us to develop as a business,” he said.
It ensures certainty for the BioGaia brand as companies want to invest and also protects the distributor, he added.
Untapped opportunities wider
Titford said that there are many opportunities across the wider Asia Pacific region for BioGaia, with “a lot of untapped potential” that the company is focused on becoming a part of.
Despite its opportunities the region also has its challenges, he said, one being the birth rates with low levels in Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan that can impact business targeted at infants.
Taiwan does however have a population of 23 million, the firm detailed, with a high standard of living which should underpin success for probiotic products.
“We have distribution partnerships in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia; the two latter countries are interesting as they are growth markets with improving economies and the probiotics sectors are following this positive trend,” Titford said.
The company has a long-term presence in Australia too; a developed market, he added.
Thailand and Vietnam are two markets the probiotic supplier is not present in, but have not been prioritised immediately as Taiwan and China hold arguably more potential, he said.
The regulatory situation is comparatively more straight-forward than China, he said, where the company is working to drive a product launch from its partnership in Shanghai with Unilab’s subsidiary, SUCB.