ProThera has over 50 years of formulation experience and has a extensive product line of probiotics and dietary supplements that are distributed exclusively through the practitioner channel, according to Wolfgang Kuchen, SFI’s vice president of strategy and development. The ProThera acquisition gives SFI entry both into the probiotics market and the US market as a whole. And ProThera’s concentration on the practioner channel made them attractive, Kuchen said, because that is the company’s overall market strategy.
“Their specialty is probiotics, non dairy probiotics, but you don’t find the products in food drug and mass or in health channels,” Kuchen told NutraIngredients-USA.
“It’s the purest model I’ve been able to see in the market. If you look at other professional market lines, there is a lot of spill over into internet and retail sales.
First US acquisition
ProThera is the first company acquisition in North America for SFI. The company had recently purchased a weight loss product called Calorease from a research group associated with Wayne State University in Detroit, MI.
SFI also acquired Ginsana, a natural medicines producer, based in Bioggio, Switzerland. Owned by Pharmaton, a Boehringer Ingelheim Group company, Ginsana brings expertise, state-of-the-art facilities and a complementary line of six natural medicine brands with significant growth potential to the SFI portfolio. Ginsana will continue to market its products under the Ginsana brand name and manufacture natural medicines.
"The parallel acquisition of ProThera and Ginsana not only gives us entry into the attractive field of probiotics, it has extended our network and pipeline of natural medicine brands with a great legacy," said SFI CEO, Nigel Pollard. "Building on our success in the southern hemisphere - in Australia and South Africa - we have now established a strong foundation for expansion in the northern hemisphere.”
A south-north strategy
Kuchen said the company has been pursuing a strategy of organic growth in Indonesia, Australia and other markets in the southern hemisphere. But in the north, the company is looking for acquisitions. But all of them will be aimed at the practitioner/natural medicines channel.
“All of our products need to be scientifically, clinically proven. It’s geared toward the health care professional rather than to the consumer or patient,” he said.
Part of that comes from the company’s history; founder Eng Liang Tan, now SFI’s executive chairman, studied nuclear physics in what was then West Germany and experienced first hand the natural medicines market there.
“If you look at markets like Germany or France, 7 out of the top 10 OTC drugs are herbals,” Kuchen said. “I don’t think we are going to come to a system here in the US where doctors will be prescribing natural products. But we do think the bucket is expanding.
“We believe that certain health conditions and concerns have not been addressed adequately with synthetic drugs. We think more and more people and more and more doctors realize this. And we think that that natural medicines channel will pick up that slack,” he said.