While the innovative company called the move a "key step in our development of an entirely new type of Jones energy beverage," it gave few details other than what it included in a press release. Jones Soda said on Wednesday that only president/ceo Peter van Stolk would speak about the arrangement and that he was unavailable.
The agreement with Pharma Foods International of Kyoto, Japan, Mitsubishi Corp. of Tokyo and Mitsubishi International Food Ingredients of Dublin, Ohio, will lead to a new product line that is expected to be available at select retail locations by this winter.
Pharma Gaba is a naturally produced form of the amino acid gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a key neurotransmitter in the human brain that exerts a number of anti-stress effects among other benefits, Jones Soda said.
It recently achieved GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status in the United States. "Rather than produce a stimulant effect like caffeine-containing energy beverages, Pharma Gaba is valued for its ability to promote mental focus," the company said. The current energy beverage category is estimated to be over $6 billion in sales annually and is expected to exceed $10 billion by 2010, according to Jones Soda.
In Japan, the most popular applications of the ingredient include use in coffee as it is particularly helpful in counteracting the negative effects of caffeine, as well as chocolate, sports beverages, water, energy beverages and candy, the release stated.
Two weeks ago, shares of Jones Soda fell on news that Starbucks would no longer sell the beverage, which is made from cane sugar. On Wednesday, shares rose on news of the Pharma Gaba agreement.