New Zealand dairy processor Fonterra is launching a research centre with APC Microbiome Ireland, which is based in University College Cork (UCC), to research probiotics targeted to improving health and well-being.

Fonterra aims to bring a range of new evidence-based probiotics to the market over the next five to 10 years.

The new centre is expected to be operational by the end of the year, marking the first time Fonterra will have a research team based in Ireland.

There had been previous research collaboration between Fonterra and APC over the previous four years.

Health products

General manager for science and technology, Dr Mark Malone, stated that APC’s experience in researching probiotics will feed into the new partnership’s future work.

“It will serve as a crucial hub for identifying and substantiating the health benefits of our probiotics, accelerating our ability to introduce innovative strains to the market with greater speed and precision, and underpinning our commitment to delivering top-quality proprietary probiotic strains with well-documented health advantages.”

Director APC Microbiome Ireland, Prof Paul Ross, highlighted the need for the centre to forge partnerships with industry players for research to translate into products being rolled out for the public.

“Fonterra’s leadership in product development and commercialisation will significantly advance the development of novel probiotic strains with the potential for health benefits. APC celebrate 20 years of scientific excellence this year, and the announcement of this new centre is a testament to this standing.

The opening of the new centre shows the APC’s commitment to further develop evidence-backed solutions for health and well-being, according to UCC president Prof John O’Halloran.

“Bringing together scientists, clinicians and industry, it's another significant step forward in our UCC ‘futures – food, microbiome and health’ strategy, which aims to provide solutions to some of the most important challenges of our time,” the professor added.