Chris Claridge, director of Christchurch-based Carrickmore Nutrition told FoodNavigator-Asia that China’s relaxation of the one child policy meant more infants required feeding.
“China has to an extent relaxed it’s one baby policy. It is also the year of dragon. So it is an auspicious year for a child to born. And currently domestic supply is not adequate to meet demand,” said Claridge.
“This coupled with a desire by Chinese parents to make sure their baby consumes safe food products has increased demand for New Zealand infant formula in China,” he added.
Claridge started Carrickmore Nutrition 18 months ago, and has started manufacturing infant formula for both the New Zealand and Chinese markets this month.
“The preparation period for making sure the formula complied with both New Zealand and Chinese regulations was 18 months. We have established a distribution and logistics system to ensure that the infant formula supply can meet our projected orders,” he added.
Claridge said that tackling the distribution riddle in such a vast market like China is vital for any company like his.
“This is a critical question. Research shows that babies are unwilling to change formulas once they start drinking a particular formula. They get used to the taste profile and are unwilling to change. So we have to ensure that those mothers who purchase Carrickmore Infant Formula have continued access to it,” he said.
As such, Claridge revealed, Carrickmore Nutrition is distributing only in the mother and baby stores in China. “We are not considering the supermarket chains and general grocery stores.”
On the question of such an extended supply chain, Claridge said that he is able to supply very high volumes of product.
“It is merely a matter of managing the supply chain. Our main issue is our geographic distance from China. So it is really a logistics issue rather than a supply issue.”
It’s the partner silly!
Claridge revealed his company is interested in other markets, and seeking partners.
“Our main criteria for entering a market is partnering with a distribution company that has the logistical and technical knowledge to manage such a critical product,” he said, noting many prospective partners are refused for failing the firm's criteria.
Claridge also remarked that the company would not be restricting itself to one product category. “We have a number of other Mother and Baby nutrition products under development. We will be announcing these to the market at a later date.”