Probiotics, a food arena dominated by yoghurt drinks, now has a cheese component in the form of a hard Lancashire cheese from Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses.
Made with pasteurised milk, Butlers Probiotic contains Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactbacillus casei - cultures that help maintain a good intestinal balance by inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria and promoting digestion.
It is already available in Asda, with an rsp of £1.48 per 130g, and the company is in discussion with other major multiples over further listings.
Patrick Brunt, sales and marketing director, said the company had spotted a gap in the market and its mission was to stay abreast of consumer preferences. He also said he anticipated &"very serious growth&" in probiotic cheese, as indicated by the boom in probiotic yoghurts.
Brunt added that, although the product was in its infancy, the company hoped to make it a £1m brand by the middle of 2007.
According to Nigel White, secretary of the British Cheese Board, the launch was a good move and offered added benefits to a product that was already an essentially healthy source of calcium, protein and vitamins A, D and B12.
&"A lot of people have been working on producing this type of product for a while,&" said White.
&"It&'s an obvious move for cheese but the difficulty has been proving that the probiotics can pass into the right part of the intestine to produce the required benefits. I&'d expect to see more products like this coming to market in the future.&"
Nearly 90% of British households buy cheese at least once a month. Although mainstream Cheddar still accounts for more than half the market, the better-for-you sector, which includes low fat, organic, cholesterol-lowering and cottage cheese, is showing strong growth.