PERKii Pty Ltd, an Australian start-up using innovative technology to produce the world’s first water and juice encapsulated probiotic drink, has secured AUS$3m in capital to fund expansion in the lucrative US market.
The company’s technology had been used to produce what is claims is the world’s first water and juice encapsulated probiotic drink. The PERKii low-calories, no fermentation probiotic drink range was launched in 2016 and is now has listings in over 2000 stores across Australia and New Zealand.
The range includes four natural fruit flavours, with each bottle containing 1 billion CFUs (colony forming units) and just 37 calories.
The new funding – secured from Uniseed-managed investors ($1.51m), angel investors and high net worth individuals ($574k), and the Advance Queensland Business Development Fund ($1m) – will drive PERKii’s continued rapid local market expansion and establish production of the Company’s technology in the US, where it aims to take on a combined ANZ, US and Asia market worth US$21.8 billion.
PERKii uses patent-protected ProGel encapsulation 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. Uniseed supported both ProGel and PERKii through the commercialisation process and has continued to lobby for their local growth and now international expansion.
“PERKii and ProGel are a really exciting Australian research commercialisation success story,” said Uniseed CEO and PERKii chairman Peter Devine.
“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.”
Matthew Kowal, CEO of PERKii, added: “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.
“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.”