More manufacturers are pivoting their infant nutrition ingredients into other segments of nutrition in light of changing market dynamics in China.
Arla Foods Ingredients has launched three formulated powder recipes to help private-label producers meet the growing demand for healthy ageing milk powders. According to Innova Market Insights, between 2018 and 2022, China accounted for 85% of new nutrition product launches with a senior positioning, the vast majority of which were formulated milk powders. This reflects the fact that there are over a quarter of a billion people in China over the age of 60, as well as growing awareness of the importance of nutrition for healthy ageing, the Arla Foods Ingredients said.
Christian Fiil Nielsen, portfolio manager, Advanced Nutrition Manufacturing, Arla Foods Ingredients Group P/S, explained the strategy behind this launch: "As a result of changing birth rates and the current regulatory climate, we are witnessing a notable shift in the early life nutrition market (ELN) in China, with market share concentrated among a few domestic players. This shift is likely impacting many other players, leading them to look for growth opportunities outside the ELN category. With their existing distribution networks, expertise in nutrition science, and marketing capabilities, they’re well equipped to expand into adjacent product categories. Through the introduction of our new offering, we’re hoping to support these enterprises in establishing a strong presence in the growing healthy ageing market. With easier accessibility and a consumer base certain to grow in the future, this is a great opportunity for businesses to thrive."
Asked about the role of premiumization and personalization, Nielsen added: "We have observed significant growth in the senior consumer segment in China, both in terms of population size and purchasing power. Our research indicates that these consumers demonstrate a heightened awareness of the challenges associated with the ageing process and recognise the crucial role that physical activity and proper nutrition play in maintaining quality of life. As a result, there is a growing demand within this diverse consumer group for specialised products that address their specific needs and concerns. This heightened emphasis on customisation, coupled with increasing disposable income, is driving demand for a wider range of premium offerings in the field of healthy ageing."
Formulated to comply with Chinese regulations, the three offerings feature added vitamins, minerals and probiotics as well as milk and whey protein. The formulations can be customized by introducing other premium ingredients such as organic milk and specialty whey ingredients like milk fat globule membrane (MFGM). Flavours and sweeteners can also be added.
The finished solutions will be produced by Advanced Nutrition Manufacturing, Arla Foods Ingredients’ manufacturing division, which is known as a provider of infant nutrition products. Now, the division will also focus on manufacturing formulated milk powders for adults on a private label basis.
Nielsen explained: "Our range of ingredients focuses largely on promoting muscle health and enhancing bone health with premium natural milk minerals.
"To distinguish our new product range from fortified milk powders, we include premium whey proteins and address gut comfort through innovations such as reduced lactose and the inclusion of documented pre-, pro-, and synbiotics."
"The majority of products in the healthy ageing segment are formulated milk powders, typically packaged in metal cans. However, we recognize the potential for differentiation by exploring single-serving sachets, particularly for our premium and super-premium offerings. This approach appeals to consumers seeking convenience and novelty, setting our products apart."
Danone enters new adult medical nutrition category in China
In other news, Danone is set to launch its first medical nutrition product in the adult medical nutrition category in China. The release of Fortimel is part of Danone’s strategy to leverage its scientific expertise to drive acceleration in adult medical nutrition whilst also addressing the needs of China’s ageing population and the growing incidence of chronic disease.
Fortimel has been formulated to meet the nutritional needs of patients recovering from surgery, cancer, and stroke. The new range, to be produced in Danone’s manufacturing facility in Wuxi, China, can also address the risk of malnutrition when nutritional requirements cannot be met through normal feeding.
Specialized nutrition, which includes medical nutrition, accounts for 30% of Danone’s total revenues, with a growth of +10% like-for-like in 2022.
Bruno Chevot, Danone’s President China, North Asia and Oceania said: “The launch of Fortimel Balanced is another milestone on Danone’s ‘Innovated in China, Made in China’ journey. The product leverages Danone’s cutting-edge science and research capability to cater to the nutritional needs of Chinese patients. It marks a solid step into the aFSMP market in China, and helps Danone to further grow its portfolio covering the full life spectrum.”