Infant liquid milk in China: Nestle strives to meet Gen-Z's demands for convenience and immunity benefits

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Beba Supreme infant formula powder and liquid milk. ©Nestle
Beba Supreme infant formula powder and liquid milk. ©Nestle

Related tags Nestlé China Liquid milk

Nestle China says that there is growth potential for the infant liquid milk category, especially amongst mothers in their 20s who are demanding more convenient and functional solutions.

Nestle China showcased Beba Supreme Pre – an infant liquid milk from its German subsidiary during the recent China International Import Expo (CIIE).

According to the company, immune benefits, nutrition profile, and convenience are the top three factors that mothers would consider when selecting infant formula. 

“Among mothers, their top two needs when selecting infant milk formula are its immune benefits and whether it provides a complete nutrition.

“For the Gen-Z mothers, they tend to focus more on ‘me’ instead of ‘we’ aspect when it comes to baby nurturing. They seek convenience and good service when they are considering different brands.

“Liquid milk is considered a new and advanced baby nurturing method. Through cross border e-commerce, Nestle aims to provide Chinese consumers with advanced products from markets beyond the border, hence, the reason for introducing BEBA Supreme Pre liquid milk,”​ said a Nestle China spokeswoman.

Although it commands a much smaller market size when compared to milk powder, a triple digit growth trend has been observed for liquid milk, she said.  

Other brands which have jumped on the bandwagon include Aptamil by Danone, Similac by Abbott, Mead Johnson, and Synutra based in France.

Mintel pointed out that the Chinese parents were willing to pay more for infant formula if the products came in ready-to-drink formats.

Five HMOs

Aside from its dosage format, Beba Supreme Pre is also novel in that it contains five types of human oligosaccharides (HMOs).

The HMOs are 2’-fucosyllactose (2’FL)/difucosyllactose (DFL) mix, lacto-N-neotetraose (LNnT), lacto-N-tetraose (LNT), 3’-sialyllactose (3’SL), and 6’-sialyllactose (6’SL). 

According to the company, these HMOs represent some of the most abundant HMOs across the three major structural categories in human milk and are chemically and structurally identical to those found in human milk.  

In contrast, most commercially available infant formulas usually consist of one or two HMOs, with 2’FL the most commonly used.

Made in Germany, the product, commercialised in March, is said to be the first liquid milk sold in China that contains five HMOs. It is also suitable for consumption in newborns.

Being the third most abundant solid component in human milk, HMOs have been extensively studied and have shown to produce immunomodulatory effects.

In last October, Nestle’s research, published on Nutrients, ​showed that the aforementioned HMOs could modulate the intestinal barrier, promote gut health, and protect against intestinal inflammatory disorders.  

The liquid milk comes in two SKUs – with a capacity of either 70ml or 200ml per bottle. 

Production process  

The liquid milk is produced first by the dissolution and mixing of different ingredients.

It then goes through ultra-high temperature (UHT) processing and is packed aseptically.

The finished products are then transported via cold chain to ensure that the temperature and quality of the products remain stable.

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