Australia

Lab-developed PERKii probiotic readies for sale after VC backing

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Lab-developed PERKii probiotic readies for sale after VC backing

Related tags: Venture capital

A lactose-free probiotic fruit drink developed by scientists in Australia has managed to secure sufficient investment for it to be launched across the country's beverage market.

PERKii, which claims to deliver live and protected probiotics in an 85% water base, uses the University of Queensland’s patented Progel technology to ensure the delivery of live probiotics through to the digestive system. 

Randy Milne
PERKii chief executive Randy Milne

Uniseed, a Melbourne University venture capital fund; UniQuest, the UQ commercialisation company; and investment house the Brisbane Angels are among the investors. 

We are excited and extremely proud to be associated with this calibre of investor​,” said Randy Milne, PERKii’s chief executive. 

Their experience and ability to grow successful companies is evident and we are sure PERKii will continue to grow and achieve new successes with the support of this group​.” 

UQ scientists used Progel to create microgels, the tiny natural beads that encapsulate the probiotics in PERKii, on a commercial scale. These ensure the survival of the probiotics through stomach acidity to the lower digestive system, where the probiotics do their work. 

Milne, a former business manager at Coca-Cola Amatil, has trialled PERKii since September 2015 at a number of outlets around Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. 

During this trial period, PERKii has received a lot of positive feedback from outlets and customers looking for a delicious, low calorie, lactose-free probiotic drink that targets the digestive system​,” Randy said. 

Since the start of the trial, the beverage has attracted international attention, and has become available at a growing list of national stockists, including Caltex Woolworths and various convenience sites.

Last month, Milne told beveragedaily.com​ that PERKii would shake up the functional drinks market, which is now established in Australia. 

He said he wanted his brand to move the category on from the “same small yogurt drinks full of sugar​”.

Our sales, without any real marketing, were very pleasing​,” said Milne. “When we can sell a brand-new product simply because it has the word ‘probiotic’ on the label and isn’t in a dairy format, we know we are on to something​.  

Consumers love the taste, the technology developed at a world-leading university, and the low calorie aspect​.”

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