Speaking with DairyReporter.com, Neil McIntyre, the Yangon-based director of ANZ Nutrition, said Myanmar - formerly Burma - has emerged from 50-years of military rule with a "great need for good nutrition."
"An estimated 6m children suffer from malnutrition," he said.
"We know dairy nutrition can provide the essential proteins and many of the minerals that are lacking in their diet."
Milk is, however, expensive in Myanmar, where production is currently limited.
But with global dairy prices at a low, it is at the moment possible to supply consumers in Myanmar with a domestically manufactured, "competitively priced" milk drink, said McIntyre.
“It remains a very poor country, so it’s essential for us to use clever design and excellent process and packaging technologies that are highly efficient, to ensure we supply our product at price points low enough for the mass market," he said.
The concept developed by ANZ Nutrition begins with the recombination of skimmed milk powder (SMP) and milk protein concentrate (MPC) with water.
The mix is ultra-heat treated (UHT) and a lactase enzyme is added to "reduce the potential impact of lactose."
ANZ Nutrition plans to offer consumers a 150ml serving for 200 Myanmar Kyat - about US$0.20.
Probiotic cultures can also be added post-heat treatment to “promote improved intestinal health in children," said McIntyre.
“Poor microflora activity in the intestine of children can compromise their ability to digest the nutrition they ingest. Adding the probiotic significantly improves the value of the drink, making the nutrition more available to them."
It hopes to offer the probiotic-enriched 150ml variant for US$0.25.
ANZ Nutrition began life in New Zealand in 1996 with the development of high-protein, ultra-filtrated milk drink, Sun Latte.
It sold the Sun Latte brand to Fonterra 10-years later, and has since worked on dairy developments in Japan and China, and consulted on ventures in Mongolia and Vietnam.
Now, it is dedicating time and money to Myanmar.
It will initially spend around NZ$20m on a facility in Yangon, which is designed to be expanded in three phrases "in response to market demand."
Investment over the next five years "as we gear up to supply the market in response to consumers demands" will total "at least" NZ$50m, McIntyre added.
“The operational facilities will take the major share of the investment, although we will invest considerable funds in brand and market development activities to heighten market traction and reduce the risks of failure. Compelling engagement with our young consumers is essential.”
"The population is well over 50m and we are confident that through further progress and political and economic reform, the once successful country will regain its place as an important Asian tiger."
"I consider it a privilege to contribute to the rapid development of the nutritional welfare of the Myanmar people. With improved health and well-being, these very charming and capable people will achieve great results," McIntyre added.
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