Customer stories

From horses to humans

open this image in new window: BioBrew

BioBrew is bringing the benefits of its successful animal probiotic to the people, with some key technical assistance from Callaghan Innovation

At a glance

  • Probiotics company BioBrew and Callaghan Innovation’s Biotechnologies team got together thanks to both parties attending a major national networking event.

  • The company and the scientists collaborated on turning BioBrew’s existing animal probiotic into a human food-grade product.

  • The Biotechnologies team also introduced BioBrew to The Foodbowl which will do the first production runs.

  • The future for probiotic products is bright, with increasing evidence the supplements can assist in treating chronic conditions.

An initial meeting in the Innovations Centre at Fieldays® has resulted in probiotics company BioBrew expanding its horizons from animal to human health.

Since it was founded by Andre Prassinos and Don Pearson in 2009, the company’s focus had been on developing fresh microbial supplements for mature and young ruminants, horses and household pets, as well as a bio-stimulant for plant health.

But when a Callaghan Innovation Regional Business Partner spotted BioBrew at the agricultural event the way was opened for the firm to move into human health supplements.

The representative put BioBrew in touch with the Biotechnologies team at Callaghan Innovation’s Research and Technical Services (RTS) division. Bioprocessing & Fermentation Team Leader Paul Rose and Fermentation Scientist Rashad Syed worked with BioBrew to transfer its microbial know-how to a new probiotic product for people.

“We barely understood the food grade regulations,” Andre Prassinos says. “To have someone with Paul’s expertise guiding us through it at such a high standard is very reassuring.”

In addition, Paul Rose’s team introduced BioBrew to NZ’s food innovation facility The Foodbowl, where BioBrew will do the first commercial runs of the new dietary supplement.

It was a collaboration, Paul says. “We’ve learned from each other. BioBrew inspired us and gave more purpose to our plans to introduce a fermentation process into our food grade facility, and we hope to use that as a platform for future opportunities.”

Product knowledge meets science

BioBrew’s reputation in animal nutrition has grown steadily, particularly for its equine brand Equibrew which is a sponsor of the Kaimanawa wild horse muster, and CalfBrew which is now sold in rural supply stores throughout NZ.

However, BioBrew had always aspired to enter the human health market.

The RTS Biotechnologies team were able to add a layer of technical know-how to BioBrew’s existing knowledge and processing skills, reducing production time and increasing yields, Paul says.

RTS could also offer BioBrew the right cost model – access to experienced scientists with sophisticated laboratory equipment on a contract basis.

In return it learned a great deal about probiotics. “It’s quite complex, something that has a lot of elements in terms of flavour, effectiveness and other properties,” he says.

“BioBrew are really fun to work with and I think we’ve got a shared passion for success,” he says. “Sometimes people come together at the right time.”

Bright future for probiotics

As it has with other new products BioBrew will begin with a direct sales model, building up enthusiasm for the human probiotic by giving away samples and selling online before it looks to interest retail outlets.

It will market the product as a health supplement that supports overall wellness. In due course it intends to work with clinicians on randomised controlled trials that would allow it to make specific therapeutic claims, Andre says.

The evidence is now emerging that probiotics can help with a range of chronic conditions, he says.

“LiveBrew, our human product, really represents something of a new product category. We think that we’re headed towards a very important change for people suffering from a whole range of hard-to-treat problems.”

Updated: 29 November 2018