The ingredient is derived from western and eastern larch trees and has been approved as a food additive in Australia, but prohibited from use in food supplements.
The US supplements market is its biggest, as the ingredient, which Lonza has branded as FiberAid, has been available for many years and it is self-affirmed GRAS (generally recognised as safe).
Lonza scientific marketing manager Ulla Freitas said the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approval would open up the growing prebiotic supplements market in Australia and the region.
"We have a local distributor and we hope to have products on-market by year's end," Freitas told NutraIngredients.com. "FiberAid, has been quite successful in the US."Lonza met three requirements to win the TGA approval:
- That the ingredient is derived from western and eastern larch trees;
- That the concentration of polysaccharides in arabinogalactan is greater than or equal to 85 per cent;
- That the maximum recommended daily dose of the ingredient does not to exceed 15 grams.
In the European Union, Larch arabinogalactan is approved for use in food supplements but not foods although a Novel Foods application for FiberAid was in preparation.
FiberAid is marketed on its prebiotic potential and the fact it is stable in low pH conditions. It is said to have a beneficial effect on the gastrointestinal system, slowly fermenting to increase beneficial microflora like lactobacilli and bifidobacteria and decrease endogenous pathogenic bacteria.
Larch arabinogalactan was developed by Minnesota-based start-up Larex, which sold the rights to manufacture and market the ingredient to Lonza in an undisclosed deal in May 2006.
In 2004 market researcher Frost & Sullivan had called Larex the "undoubtedly the market leader in the arabinogalactan segment" and handed an award to the company for product innovation.
Before its acquisition by Lonza, Larex had built a suite of clients that included Kraft, Pepsi, Coke, Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson as well as US food supplements manufacturers.
Prebiotic ingredients, or those that boost the growth of beneficial probiotic bacteria in the gut, are worth about €90 million in the European marketplace but are forecast to reach €179.7 million by 2010, according to Frost & Sullivan.
The TGA announcement can be found here.
In another move, French pharma giant Sanofi-Aventis has paid €343m for Symbion Health - a division of Primary Health Care.
Symbion is the largest food supplements distributor in Australia and its brands include Bio-Organics, Cenovis, Nature's Own and Betadine.
"The sale of the consumer business will allow Primary to continue its focus on operating its core businesses and progress with the integration of the Symbion business acquired in February," said Primary Health Care managing director Edmund Bateman.
Sanofi-Aventis beat out competition from German pharma giant Merck KGaA for the division.