Swedish-Danish dairy giant Arla Foods has won a five-year contract from US space agency NASA to develop special foods for astronauts.

High-energy, protein-rich drinks, cheese and yoghurt, which all contain beneficial bacteria, are needed to ward off brittle-bone disease, stomach complaints and intestine problems during astronauts’ long space journeys.

Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri reported that Arla hopes to present a test drink to NASA before the end of 2002.

Arla is unlikley to profit from the order, but through collaboration with NASA new technicaly know-how will be gained that can be turned to its own projects later. Furthermore, reported the newspaper, Arla believes that working for the space agency has large marketing value.