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Yili Researcher to Share Insights into Emerging Probiotics Sector at Upcoming Dairy Summit

Over the past two decades, probiotics have grown from a small-but-influential niche into a mainstream functional ingredient. Consumers around the world are paying a lot of attention to gut health and so-called "friendly" bacteria, and the popularity of probiotics is set to increase even further.


According to experts, the total global probiotic market currently stands at around US$42.5bn, with $17.5bn of those sales coming from the Asia-Pacific region. The figures also show that the APAC market is forecast to grow by a CAGR of 8.3% over the next 7 years.

Tapping into the market for probiotics, then, presents a major opportunity for all ambitious dairy industry players. Someone who knows the unique demands of this market better than most is Wei-Lian Hung. He is Director of Scientific Research and Head of the Probiotics Research Center at Yili Group's Innovation Center in Shanghai.

Hung will deliver a talk on his area of specialist research at the upcoming 6th Dairy Asia Pacific Summit 2019, which is organized by Duxes and will take place in Singapore from November 21-22.

The presentation is sure to be of great interest to anyone looking to learn more about this booming sector, and find out how a brand-new range of probiotic products has been brought to fruition by one of the world's largest dairy producers.

During his talk, the microbiologist and agricultural chemist will share Yili's latest research on probiotics, giving attendees an authoritative insight into the research and development phase of producing a new yogurt and beverage range featuring these multi-beneficial, healthy food components.

So what exactly are probiotics? The word "probiotics" is another name for a group of bacteria called Bifidobacteria that normally live in our intestines and stomachs. Probiotics are living micro-organisms that can be consumed through fermented foods or supplements.

More and more studies show that the balance or imbalance of bacteria in a person's digestive system is linked to overall health and disease. Probiotics promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria and have been linked to a wide range of benefits.

These include benefits for weight loss, skincare, cognitive health and immunity. They also help your body perform essential functions such as processing food and staving off harmful bacteria.

At Yili's innovation center in Shanghai, Hung and his team have concentrated on one particular species of probiotic named Bifidobacterium lactis (B. lactis). This species has received a lot of media attention as being potentially beneficial.

Several high-quality studies on the bacterium suggest B. lactis shows promise in treating a range of digestion-related conditions, from intestinal infections to irritable bowel syndrome.

Many consumers will already be familiar with the bacteria in the food industry even if they don't know the name. For example, France's Danone use their own strain of B.lactis as the main functional ingredient in their high-profile Activia range of products, which were first introduced in 1987.

Characterization of a Bifidobacterium strain BL-99 and its application in fermented milk

It is widely agreed that Yili have pursued innovation for many years in the field of probiotics. Their research reached a major breakthrough recently when they demonstrated the benefits of an exclusive strain "Bifidobacterium lactis BL-99 (BL-99)", which was independently developed by the Institute of Food Science and Technology at Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS).

Yili's research results received high praise from experts and scholars, and show how China has now mastered key technologies in the research and utilization of probiotics. BL-99 represents a "new coordinate" for the development of the industry, says the company.

BL-99 has the ability to increase the abundance of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli in the gut

According to Yili's researchers, BL-99 can promote the growth of further B. lactis and lactobacillus and help enhance a person's immune system.

In comparison with the original bacteria's efficacy, BL-99 has a "doubling effect", says Hung, which promotes the growth of intestinal flora. It is also especially suitable for post-meal consumption, positively affects the absorption of the stomach, remains active for a long time, and develops in a stable manner.

Through extensive rounds of study and testing, Hung and his colleagues have determined the optimal amount of BL-99 that provided efficacy over five doses. In the end, this was evaluated to be 9 milligrams, which is how much each portion in Yili's probiotic range will contain when it is released.

BL-99 has the ability to increase NK cell activity in mice

As probiotics become better understood, additional benefits are still being discovered. Scientists continue to learn new insights into this particular field of investigation. One of the under-researched areas with probiotics has been their role in affecting the amount of NK cells in the gut.

Natural killer cells (also known as NK cells) are important immune cells that are critical for innate immunity. They are a type of lymphocyte (a white blood cell) and have anti-tumor, anti-viral, and immune regulatory functions.

The connection between probiotics and NK cells has been the subject of a handful of reports in the past. But, through more tests conducted at Yili's Innovation Center, Hung's findings indicate that probiotics can actively enhance the activity of NK cells. Specifically, he says that BL-99 has the ability to increase NK cell activity in mice.

BL-99 has been successfully added to YILI's yogurt product Yi Xao as a functional ingredient

Thanks to these findings and more, Yili has announced that it will unveil a new probiotic yogurt with BL-99 in the near future. The company has already designed the selection of products, from individual yogurts through to snacks and bottled drinks. All these products feature the BL-99 functional ingredient as their main selling point.

Soon, the new range of BL-99 branded yogurts will join Yili's other offerings under the existing Yi Xao label. Many industry insiders will be watching the launch with interest, to see how BL-99 fares and how well it is received in a country which accounts for almost 50 percent of probiotic sales in the APAC region.

With the increasing demand for probiotic products, Yili says it has made a great deal of effort in conducting further research and development. The company will continue to study the benefits of BL-99 and bring it to more consumers across the world, according to Hung.

Through continuous scientific study and innovation of the "global health" ecosystem, Yili yogurt will continue to be "quality benchmark" of the dairy industry. It is also expected to inject new energy into China's dairy industry and continue to promote the healthy development of the food and beverage sector as a whole.

Yili is just one of many dairy companies which are actively expanding their diversified product mix. It is integrating new resources to come up with high-quality products and services. At the same time, it is also committed to meeting the increasing demands of consumers, upgrading products and bringing better quality to consumers.

To learn more about what Yili are doing with probiotics and tap into this fast-developing trend, be sure not to miss Hung's talk at the 6th Dairy Asia Pacific Summit 2019. The event will bring together experts to discuss many aspects of dairy - from new market trends and regulations, to reports on sustainable packaging, the application of ingredients and flavoring, and the latest processing technologies.

As the leading platform for dairy professionals from many different perspectives, this year's summit is sure to be another important gathering for industry insiders from across the world to exchange ideas. Click here for further information and to book your tickets today:  http://www.duxes-foodbeverage.com/dairy-ap/index.html

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