NZ dairy giant Fonterra seals partnership deal with U.S. biotech firm VitaKey

The Fonterra logo is seen near the Fonterra Te Rapa plant near Hamilton, New Zealand, August 6, 2013. REUTERS/Nigel Marple/File Photo

Nov 4 (Reuters) - New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra (FCG.NZ) said on Thursday it had struck a partnership deal with U.S.-based biotech firm VitaKey to look at ways to prolong freshness and nutrients of products using probiotic strains.

In a statement, Fonterra said it was looking to design dairy products that include time-controlled release of specific dairy nutrients, starting with probiotics that would keep it fresher for longer and allow nutrients to be more active. It didn't disclose financial terms of the partnership.

The cooperation deal comes as global supply chain disruptions highlight the need to bolster the storage duration of products while retaining their nutrition. The coronavirus pandemic has also increased healthy diet concerns as people around the world adapt to lifestyles that often include extended period working or staying at home.

"We can really drive our 'Active Living' business by appealing to the growing health and wellness consumer segment that desire the maximum functional benefits from food," said Judith Swales, chief executive officer for Fonterra's Asia-Pacific region.

"Because the nutrients are encapsulated and highly targeted, it also means we can use less milk in our production, making our milk go further while reducing food waste," Swales said.

VitaKey's nutrients platform is based on technology licensed from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and developed at the Langer Lab.

Reporting by Riya Sharma in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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