DuPont partner with Lonza in HMO-focused infant nutrition venture

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

DuPont Nutrition & Health and Lonza Consumer Health & Nutrition are to join forces to manufacture and supply human milk oligosaccharide (HMO) in a deal that looks to meet rising demand in a €44bn global infant nutrition sector.

The agreement will see Lonza manufacture and supply CARE4U, a novel food for use in infant and follow-on formula and foods for young children, which contains the HMO 2'-Fucosyllactose (2’FL).

“By engaging with Lonza, DuPont will be able to accelerate commercialisation and offer high-quality HMOs to customers and prospects,”​ said John Rea, global business unit leader, cultures, probiotics, food protection, HMO & fibers, DuPont Nutrition & Health.

Steen Lyck, global business director HMO, DuPont Nutrition & Health added the firm would “obtain a significant volume and high quality, reliable manufacturing andsupply chain,”​ to provide 2’-FL for growing global markets.

DuPont reached a landmark back in December 2017 when together with Inbiose, a Belgium-based biotechnology company, received EU approval for 2’-FL designed for use in infant formula.

The ingredient was also marketed by DuPont under the brand name CARE4U, having already been approved for use in dietary supplements.

Yesterday’s announcement appears to bolster DuPont’s activities in this lucrative market as Rea added, “The collaboration with Lonza will play a key role in DuPont’s business growth strategy by focusing on providing high-quality consumer health and wellness products.”

DuPont Nutrition & Health head up the global oligosaccharides in infant nutrition market with an approximate market share​ of 24.1%, followed by FrieslandCampina Domo 23.9%, Abbott 22.3%, Ingredion 18.2%, and others 11.5%.

Its CARE4U 2’-FL is produced by microbial fermentation with the final product containing more than 98% 2’-FL, the most abundant of the more than 130 oligosaccharides in human milk.

“Of the 20 predominant HMOs, the most abundant is 2’-FL, averaging 2.4 grams per litre which provided the greater opportunity to research and commercialise under the DuPont CARE4U 2’-FL brand,”​ said Ratna Mukherjea, global R&D leader, HMO & technical fellow, DuPont Nutrition & Health.

“Research is ongoing into the commercialisation of the next generation of fucosylated HMOs such as HMOs, 3’-FL (3-fucosyllactose).”

Lonza realignment and focus

Lonza already offer a portfolio of health ingredients suitable for sports nutrition, weight management as well as infant nutrition that include Carnipure, a product containing the amino acid L-carnitine that has proved essential for energy metabolism.

The Swiss-based firm also commented on the prospect of working with DuPont as Erasmo Schutzer, president of Lonza’s consumer health division, said, “In partnering with DuPont, Lonza will apply its leading science and biotechnology expertise in consumer health and nutrition applications to develop and manufacture superior quality CARE4U 2’-FL.

In a possible eye on the buoyant infant nutrition sector, Lonza has also undergone something of a realignment as it also looks to boost its offerings in nutrition as well as pharma and biotech.

The company revealed this week that it would maintain two segments with one dedicated to Lonza Pharma Biotech & Nutrition (LPBN).

In an indication of how fast each industry was converging, the LPBN would oversee the translation of technology and knowhow from pharma to nutrition, including regulatory and scientific expertise.

Meanwhile Lonza Specialty Ingredients (LSI) will retain Consumer & Resources Protection and Consumer Product Ingredients

Speaking this week in his new role as Group CEO Marc Funk said the new structure would “increase operational efficiency enabling Lonza to develop a more compelling offer and extend our competitive advantage in the market”.

Lonza added that with this new structure, its innovation programs and technology platforms to create new solutions that extended to advanced personalized medicines to functional foods, nutrition and a healthy environment.

Formula firms jostling for position

As well as ingredient suppliers, Nestlé, a major infant-formula manufacturer recently announced the opening of a global research centre in Ireland to focus on infant nutrition products for the global market.

The investment comes as Nestlé looks to reorganise its infant nutrition unit to compete with regional rivals and boost sales.

Speaking to Reuters​​ back in 2017, the firm said it would hire regional managers for the €8.8bn ($10bn) business to respond to regional trends faster.

The switch in strategy comes five months after Nestlé's new CEO identified its highly profitable infant formula business as a priority.

“The new organisation will allow Nestlé's infant nutrition business to deliver accelerated organic growth and realise further efficiency gains,”​ Nestlé said, adding it would allow it to be more “agile and efficient​”​ in responding to local demands.

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