University of Queensland food tech start-up PERKii has raised $3 million in capital to launch its probiotic drink technology in the US. The innovative technology was used to produce the world’s first water and juice encapsulated probiotic drink.
The low-calorie, no fermentation probiotic drink range was launched in mid 2016 and is now sold in over 2000 stores including Coles, Woolworths, Caltex, major independent grocery stores in Australia, and Countdown stores in New Zealand.
The range includes four natural fruit flavours with each bottle containing 1 billion CFUs (colony forming units) and just 37 calories.
PERKii uses patent-protected ProGel technology that protects the probiotic in a natural coating to create on-shelf stability and enhance the probiotic’s survival through the acidic stomach environment. The ProGel technology emerged from University of Queensland research.
Australia’s longest running research commercialisation fund Uniseed supported both ProGel and PERKii through the commercialisation process and has continued to lobby for their local growth and now international expansion.
Uniseed CEO and PERKii Chairman Peter Devine said the funds secured from Uniseed-managed investors, angel investors and the Advance Queensland Business Development Fund “will drive PERKii’s continued rapid local market expansion and establish production of the Company’s technology in the US”.
From there, PERKii will take on a combined ANZ, US and Asia market worth US$21.8 billion.
“As the popularity of high-sugar, carbonated soft drinks continue to decline, we’re seeing a strong local appetite for “Better-For-You” beverages, such as PERKii’s range, using ProGel technology. And, of course, consumer demand for high quality probiotic supplements is strong as we learn more about how a healthy gut can positively influence overall health and wellbeing,” Devine said.
Matthew Kowal, CEO of PERKii said people are more aware of the benefits of probiotics but “the format and the performance in the digestive tract of existing products” has been limited up to now.
“Using the patented ProGel technology, PERKii makes probiotics better. We coat the probiotic in natural ingredients to provide protection through the stomach, creating a delicious, low calorie and fermentation-free drink. We’ve chosen a globally-recognised strain of probiotic shown to enhance immune response, digestive health and improve recovery time from cold and flu symptoms. However, the technology can be applied to any probiotic,” Kowal said.