French group Danone has struck a deal with Japanese dairy products company Yakult Honsha, to accelerate the growth of both companies’ functional food and beverage products.

Under the agreement Danone - which has a 20% stake inYakult - will nominate two candidates to Yakult's board and Yakult will nominate one candidate to Danone’s board.

President of Yakult, Sumiya Hori, said: “The primary goal of this alliance is to strengthen Yakult and Danone's global leadership in probiotics by leveraging upon both companies' respective strengths and unique business models.”

Danone and Yakult said they would create a ‘Global Probiotics Council’ to “advance the cause of probiotics with all relevant interest groups such as consumers, regulatory authorities and the scientific community”.

Both companies noted that the move would not affect existing relationships with their respective partners.