Belgian olive oil extract supplier BioActor has inked a deal with the world’s biggest food firm to develop products based on bone health benefits.

The undisclosed deal will see Nestlé’s food science division – Nestlé Health Science – throw its considerable resources at BioActor’s proprietary and patented olive oil ingredient – BonOlive.

Peer­reviewed studies published in journals such as the Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging have shown olive polyphenols can benefit bone health, including reducing the risk of developing conditions like osteoarthritis.

The companies were not available for comment this morning but in a statement BioActor founder and managing director Hans van der Saag said his firm was “excited to work together with Nestlé Health Science”.

He said the collaboration would progress research and applications.

Last year van der Saag said it was close to lodging an application under the EU nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR) as the science built around the ingredient.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has approved health claims confirming the role of olive polyphenols in heart health, but not bone health.

The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging 12­month intervention study among post­menopausal women found olive polyphenols stimulated bone renewal by increasing ‘osteoblast’ activity.

In bone development, damaged bone parts are removed by cells called osteoclasts. The empty space is then filled with new bone structure by a second cell type – osteoblasts.

The firm is careful to assert thatBonOlive is not an alternative to calcium supplements, which deliver calcium as building blocks to the bone, or vitamin D, which enhances delivery of calcium to the bone, but rather a medium for enabling these other nutrients to function.

“It is clear that effective build­up of bone from calcium can only take place when sufficient ‘worker’ cells are active in the bone to build the calcium into the bone,” the company has said.