Dairy proteins to fight diabetes: Kiwi firm Keytone targets Asia with new formula

By Cheryl Tay

- Last updated on GMT

Keytone Dairy developed KeyDairy Diabetic Formula, a powdered dairy supplement, to provide essential nutrition for consumers with diabetes.
Keytone Dairy developed KeyDairy Diabetic Formula, a powdered dairy supplement, to provide essential nutrition for consumers with diabetes.

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Kiwi manufacturer Keytone Dairy has expanded its range of dairy and nutritional products with two new formulations, which are expected to support further growth in Asia.

The company, which was most recently listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, has introduced KeyDairy Diabetic Formula and KeyDairy Junior Formula, which will be produced at its factory in New Zealand for export to Asia.

It has prioritised China, where it has been exporting its dairy and nutritional powdered supplements since its inception in 2014.

Dairy for diabetics

Keytone Dairy developed KeyDairy Diabetic Formula, a powdered dairy supplement, to provide essential nutrition for consumers with diabetes, which has become the world's fastest-growing chronic disease, and a top health concern in many Asian countries.

This is especially pertinent in China, where over 114 million residents spent US$110bn on diabetes-related healthcare in 2017.

According to founder and CEO James Gong, the product was designed to supplement prescribed diabetes medications by helping users manage their insulin and blood sugar levels.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia​, Gong said: "Diabetic patients still need nutrients, but their issues with insulin mean that carbohydrate consumption could make their blood sugar shoot up.

"What we have done is create a recipe that helps to control blood sugar levels, while allowing diabetics to consume the nutrients they need for daily life.

"Dairy proteins are high-quality and among the easiest proteins to digest. Just two servings a day would help diabetics meet their basic nutritional needs, and control their blood sugar."

Fast growth formula

With infant and child nutrition a large priority for Chinese consumers, Keytone Dairy developed KeyDairy Junior Formula for children aged three to seven, which Gong refers to as "the fast-growing years"​.

Specifically, the product is designed to support immune health, cognitive development, bone strength, red blood cell production, and healthy metabolic function.

The formula contains calcium, protein, iron, an 'essential daily dose' of vitamins A, B, C and D, and other vitamins and minerals needed for the healthy physical and mental development of children.

However, despite Keytone Dairy's full range of dairy and nutritional offerings already available in its existing APAC markets, the new products will not be sold in Japan yet.

Gong said: "Our products are sold online and in supermarkets in China, as well as in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Vietnam.

"We've launched the new product formulations, labelling and packaging — the concepts have been widely accepted across Asia, because they address major health concerns in the region.

"However, we won't market these products in Japan yet, because it has what we call a 'tariff barrier' against dairy products from other countries, including South Korea."

Domestic and foreign expansion

Keytone Dairy has been increasing its domestic footprint to support the expansion of its foreign presence, having commenced construction of its second facility (adjacent to its first facility) in New Zealand last year to raise the total annual manufacturing capacity of its powdered products to 5,000 tonnes.

Among the new features at the second facility are a blender, sachet packing line, automated canning line, and sterilised packing room; it is expected to be completed by mid-2019.

In addition, the globally accredited Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand has certified the company as halal, allowing it to export its products to countries like Malaysia and potentially, countries in the Middle East and South Asia.

These developments will support the production of not only Keytone Dairy's dairy and nutritional powdered products for seniors, young children, and diabetics of all ages, but also that of the ingredients and blends it provides on a B2B basis for brands in the sports nutrition sector.

Gong's prior role was Asia sales and marketing manager at Westland Dairy Products, New Zealand's second-largest dairy cooperative after Fonterra.

He occupied the position for 11 years before leaving to establish Keytone Dairy, which he is planning to grow across more countries and regions within APAC.

He said, "We are targeting developing countries like the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, where the markets are just starting up. They are very different from a country like Singapore, which is a well-developed and mature market that has lots of products from many different companies on the shelves.

"At the same time, we are looking at South Asia — especially India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka — and Central Asia, where we are targeting Azerbaijan. The Middle East is also on our radar, and we will be exhibiting at Gulfood this year to see where we stand and what we should do next."

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