A start-up out of the University of Queensland (UQ) is hitching a ride on the multi-billion dollar probiotic market with a dairy-free probiotic alternative.
PERKii CEO Matthew Kowal said the US is currently leading the way with an estimated probiotic market of $50 billion dollars by 2018.
“The market as relatively new and thus education of the consumer is relatively underdeveloped. This means that the quality of some cultured or probiotic products are questionable,” he said.
The probiotic water is the first of its kind to use a scientific technology known as ProGel developed by a globally recognised expert in food engineering at UQ, Profesor Bhesh Bhandari.
The ProGel probiotic microgels are a coating technology that prevents the probiotics from being damaged by the acidic stomach environment.
In a probiotic market that is continuing to grow, PERKii saw a gap in the market to offer refreshing beverages in a range of flavours that avoid lactose and high sugars, as well as preventing fermentation like other products that currently sit on shelves.
PERKii has a four month shelf life in a chilled environment enabling retailers to expand their category offering.
PERKii has also undergone a recent re-brand as the result of a learning process of being a new product and a young brand.
Mr Kowal said PERKii needed to identify and understand customers better.
“What appeals to them and on-shelf, how we reflect our offering of wellbeing and health,” he said.
PERKii has noted a shift in who is purchasing and consuming ‘healthy’ beverages. It is no longer just men who are on their way to the gym.
“The result was a move away from the sports water, masculine packaging to the everyday bright, positive and health focused look,” Mr Kowal said.
“So the growth of healthy beverages means rethinking the fridge and rethinking who is walking in your store and when. But it also means working out what products really do offer the best for the consumer, rather than the false promise of over sugary or non-active ingredients.”
In terms of the offering in convenience stores, PERKii is already available in NightOwl and Woolworths Metro convenience stores but the brand foresees and imminent expansion.
Mr Kowal said: “We definitely see convenience and (a well timed) petrol expansion as both the consumer but also the major players in each understand the opportunity to bring new customers to their stores or grow the base of their current shoppers.”
“By building a portfolio (or in our category case) a fridge door offering that feeds to that health ‘want’, these chains can ensure they don’t lose the evolving market and millennial,” he said.
“For PERKii it’s about working with these partners to grow ‘smart’ using geographically appropriate locations to launch the product and build on their health offering.
“It’s great to see that the whole health beverage category is growing as it drives the new consumer to new locations. It’s up to us to work with the right retailers to ensure they’re carrying the best products so people trust them, and return for more.”