Glanbia builds protein business in China

By Dominique Patton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Whey protein Nutrition

Irish dairy ingredients firm Glanbia is building a presence in the
Chinese market with its expertise in heat-stable proteins.

The company, which opened an office in Shanghai a year ago, started out in the market by offering lactose for the booming infant formula business but a higher value heat-stable whey protein concentrate is creating new opportunities with food manufacturers.

Barry Fitzsimons, commercial director at the Glanbia Nutritionals Asia-Pacific office, said that dairy customers in China were looking for whey protein concentrates that could resist the high level of heat treatment used in the country to counter low safety standards.

"In China the food industry uses a lot of heat during processing, which creates more challenges for proteins.

There are other heat-stable proteins on the market but our WPC 70 has nutritional advantages with its phospholipids content and this also improves the texture," he told AP-Foodtechnology.com.

The company is working with several of China's large dairies to supply the ingredient for use in yoghurts, a category that is growing by around 30 per cent each year.

Fitzsimons says demand could reach several thousand tonnes if the firm had the production capacity.

It currently supplies about 500 tonnes per year.

In addition, he is hoping that new customers of the whey protein will be convinced of the firm's abilities to offer high-tech products rather than simply dairy commodities.

Glanbia brings in 20-30 containers of commodity products per month but like any other new entrants to the market, it faces strong competition from Fonterra, the New Zealand dairy ingredients supplier that has around 80 per cent of the market after a 20-year presence.

It is therefore pushing its nutritional ingredients for use in functional foods and sports products.

China's health foods sector is still a long way from that of Europe or the US but Fitzsimons believes it will grow.

Chinese consumers have high awareness of nutrition and as their lifestyle changes, they will be looking for convenient health foods to replace traditional medicine.

Glanbia wants to offer its full range of nutritional ingredients on the market, including its vitamin and mineral products, bar ingredients and ProLibra.

"We're still building up our team here but are in discussions with lots of customers," said Fitzsimons.

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