Field Report

Shrink labels on probiotics

November 16, 2009

PHD Probiotics come in colorful shrink labels
produced digitally by Century Marketing, and feature
an unusual dispensing cap developed in Sweden.
Great tasting, effective probiotic gut bugs" is how CEO Katherine Otway of Mass Probiotics describes the company's new probiotic-enhanced flavored water, Probiotic Health Daily (PHD). While many people are consumers of probiotics, such as acidophilus in yogurt or pills, Mass Probiotics has introduced the first flavored water format for probioitics.

Currently being sold in Whole Foods Market and other natural food stores in California, as well as on the company's website, there are two flavored waters plus three powder packs available. Both the flavored water and the probiotic powder versions have a Berry Balance formula containing six probiotics to balance digestion, and Citrus Boost contains strains specifically selected for the immune function. There is a third product, Orange Detox, which is available only in powder, with strains chosen to help cleanse and reset your system. The young company has already been named by Business Week magazine as "one of America's most promising startups," and Katherine Otway has been on a whirlwind hosting/tasting tour of Whole Foods stores in California.

"Key to the product's effectiveness," Otway says, "is the fact that our company founder, Dave Tabaczynski, is a microbiologist with a deep understanding of probiotics. He has designed truly beneficial probiotic products that are extremely innovative in the natural foods space." She went on to describe Dave as "someone who cares a great deal about what we are doing at Mass Probiotics. The company was formed in 2006 with the mission of making people's guts healthier."

As with many new product introductions, labeling plays a major role. Otway says, "Our label has to do some heavy lifting from an educational standpoint. It's our most important form of advertising." Citing elements of the brand and performance parameters of the PHD line, Otway stresses that "to be effective, the label must 1) catch the eye of the consumer; 2) educate about probiotics and their benefits; and 3) build the PHD brand. Another important challenge of the beverage label is to provide instructions for use of the beverage's cap, which stores the probiotics and dispenses them into the water at the time of consumption."

Century Marketing of Bowling Green, OH, USA, manufactures the Berry Balance and Citrus Boost shrink sleeve labels for Mass Probiotics and also does postcards for the company's trade show booths. Century manufactures short-run digital shrink sleeves, pressure sensitive labels and commercial digital sheet products. (See October 2009 Field Report, Easley Winery of Indianapolis, IN, USA.)

In each 16-ounce bottle of PHD are 20 billion CFUs (colony forming units) contained in the Life Top cap, which Mass Probiotics has licensed from Cap Able, a Sweden-based firm. The probiotics are released into the flavored water at the time of consumption and thus do not suffer degradation from being on the shelf. The products are described as lightly sweet and refreshing, and one bottle contains a mere 90 calories. And PHD "to go" drink mixes are in a convenient add-to-water format with similar formulas. Finally,Otway says, "All of our PHD products have more probiotics and better prebiotic fibers than other drinks on the market, which enhances the effectiveness.

Probiotics are defined by the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations) as "live organisms administered in adequate amounts which confer a beneficial health effect on the host." They are generally used to promote the health and function of the immune and digestive systems and can be especially important for our health during the flu season.

Larry Arway worked in sales, marketing and product management at Standard Register for 35 years. He was involved in product design and development, and has worked with major consumer and industrial products companies in North America. He can be reached at