Aussie foodtech start-up raises $3m for US expansion

Tuesday, 27 November, 2018

Aussie foodtech start-up raises $3m for US expansion

Australian foodtech start-up PERKii has secured a total of $3 million in capital to launch the technology for its water and juice encapsulated probiotic drink in the US.

PERKii’s low-calorie, no fermentation probiotic drink range uses ProGel encapsulation technology from University of Queensland research. This protects the probiotic in a natural coating to create on-shelf stability and enhance its survival through the acidic environment of the stomach.

Led by research commercialisation fund Uniseed, PERKii closed a $2 million investment round which included $1.51 million from Uniseed-managed investors and $574,000 from angel investors and high net worth individuals, on top of the $1 million from Advance Queensland Business Development Fund. The investment will help fund the expansion of the company’s technology in the US, where it will take on a combined ANZ, US and Asia market worth US$21.8 billion.

The range was launched in mid-2016, supported by the early-stage backing of Uniseed, Brisbane Angels and UniQuest. It is now sold in over 2000 stores, including Coles, Woolworths, Caltex, Zambreros and major independent grocery stores in Australia, and Countdown stores in New Zealand. Available in four natural fruit flavours, each bottle contains 1 billion CFUs (colony forming units) of the clinically demonstrated Lactobacillus casei 431 (LC431) probiotic and 37 calories.

Uniseed CEO and PERKii Chairman Peter Devine described PERKii and ProGel as an “Australian research commercialisation success story”.

He attributed the local appetite for the drink to the declining popularity of high-sugar, carbonated soft drinks and the increasing demand for high-quality probiotic supplements that can help promote a healthy gut and overall wellbeing.

“While people are now increasingly aware of the benefits of probiotics, the format and the performance in the digestive tract of existing products have been limited — up until now,” said Matthew Kowal, CEO of PERKii.

“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.”

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