“‘Science for a good life’ is our company philosophy and the foundation for Probi AB was laid through a research project at Lund University launched in 1989,” explains CEO Peter Nählstedt. “During this medical research, a bacteria strain called Lactobacillus Plantarum 299V was identified. It was discovered that patients who have this strain have a better chance of avoiding sepsis after surgery.”
The bacteria strain also proved beneficial in the treatment of patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The idea of using the strain in a nutritional supplement was born and in 1991, Probi AB was founded for this purpose.
“The plan was to sell this idea to pharmaceutical companies,” says Mr. Nählstedt. “When they weren’t interested, Probi turned to the food industry instead.” Swedish dairy producer Skånemejerier decided to launch the product, which hit the market in 1994 and became a big success in Sweden.
Probi expanded quickly during the 1990s and 2000s, creating one of the most valuable Swedish functional food beverage brands under the name ProViva. “Today, more than one million Swedish people drink ProViva and enjoy its health benefits,” the CEO emphasizes.
In the 2000s Probi went on to pursue the development of other forms of supplements containing the LP299V strain. The first product was launched by Probi’s Australian partner Health World in 2006. At the same time, the company also started a cooperation with the Canadian Rosell institute for worldwide distribution of its products.
The year 2010 proved both eventful and successful for Probi: In partnership with Bringwell, a leading organization in the Scandinavian selfcare market, the company launched its own brand Probi Digestis® within Sweden and managed to take 50% of the market within just one year.
Also, Probi continued research activities on other bacteria strains that proved active in the human immune system, regulating it both up and down. Based on this research, Probi Defendum® was introduced to the Swedish market.
Today Probi employs 27 members of staff and is publicly traded on the Swedish stock exchange, turning over around 13 million EUR annually. Probi Digestis® and Probi Defendum ® are its main products. “In the US, Probi Digestis® is also available as a drink, similar to ProViva in Sweden,” says Mr. Nählstedt. “It is called GoodBelly and marketed by NextFoods. Also, our supplements are now available in a total of 35 countries. About 50% of our sales are achieved through export.”
Probi’s successful development, according to its CEO, is based on the company’s ability to attract good partners in global sales as well as to implement product ideas into fully developed consumer products. “Also, we have a great entrepreneurial spirit and we benefit from our staff’s can-do-attitude. What’s more, the company is run in a very disciplined way. Profitability and a commercial way of thinking are installed in the management.”
It is therefore no surprise that Probi is not planning to remain where it is but has several growth strategies at hand, one of these being the expansion of its international sales channels and the exploration of opportunities in the US and in Asia. The other strategy for Probi is further research and development of products that will have a positive effect on human health.
For this purpose, Probi collaborates with academic researchers locally and worldwide trying to identify relevant bacteria strains. “We currently have six on-going clinical trials,” says Mr. Nählstedt. “We have indications for including children’s health products into our portfolio and we are also running a project on oral health together with a German company named Symrise.”
Furthermore, Probi is working on specific trials that are to form the basis for a health claim approval from EFSA. With its basic principle of building its products on science and clinical studies and its great customer focus, Probi is going to continue to provide the world with its science for a good life.