Phyterra Yeast was formally known as First Venture Yeast Products and will be responsible for all aspects of Functional Technologies' yeast operations including new product development, manufacturing and commercialization. The company has spent nearly five years developing a patent-protected version of yeast that also bears the name Phyterra Yeast and which it will initially target at the home and commercial winemaking industries. "The home wine market will be an initial target for our urea-degrading yeasts. We feel this market will be especially receptive to our premium positioned products, helping us establish the Phyterra Yeast brand and raise consumer awareness of the health benefits of our yeast technology and the important contaminant problem it can mitigate," said Functional Technologies COO Garth Greenham. Testing had demonstrated Phyterra Yeast can reduce ethyl carbamate (also known as urethane) formation - a potentially toxic consequence of both commercial and home wine making - by between 30 and 90 percent in comparison to "regular yeast". Phyterra Yeast was able to do this because it "amplified yeast's ability to break down urea" which is a precursor to ethyl carbamate. Yeast spot prices can range from $15 to more than $100 per kilogram and Phyterra Yeast would sell at the higher end of the spectrum, the company said. Functional Technologies Corporation investor relations director Hogan Mullally told FoodNavigator-USA.com the name change represented the company's movement into the health and wellness area. Functional Technologies Corporation also changed its name last month, from First Venture Technologies Corporation, to reflect this change on a broader level. "We are a functional foods and beverages company," Mullally said, "and so we have re-branded ourselves accordingly. We are not one of the big yeast players that offers it as a commodity ingredient. We are a high-end, value-added player with a product that offers genuine innovation and functionality in a range of foods and beverages." Of the name change, Functional Technologies chief executive officer Howard Louie said: "As we near the commercialization phase of our proprietary yeast products we felt it was important to have a strong corporate brand that reflects our commitment to health and disease prevention." He added: "Going forward, all our developmental and commercial yeast products will be branded with the Phyterra Yeast name, with the intent of making the name recognizable as the leading yeast brand focused on health and disease prevention while still preserving natural food manufacturing processes." Aside from the wine industry Phyterra Yeast had potential in a range of baked goods, distilled spirits and rice wine. The company was also exploring animal nutrition potentialities.