Following a partnership that spans more than 15 years, Arla Foods Ingredients and Zhongbai Xingye, a Brenntag Group company, recently signed a new distribution deal that aims to strengthen their position in the Chinese nutrition market.
The agreement covers the full range of Arla Foods Ingredients’ business units, with a focus on three key segments — infant nutrition, performance nutrition, and F&B.
“These segments still offer massive opportunities in China, and they are also areas where we offer some great solutions. It’s well known that Chinese parents are particularly keen to know what’s in the formula they choose for their children. One key market demand is organic ingredients, which Chinese consumers see as premium, safe, healthy, and natural.
“A recent survey found that eight in ten Chinese mothers are willing to pay extra for organic infant formula. The expectations for high-quality ingredients makes the premium segment an attractive place for manufacturers to be,” Shu Chen, Regional Marketing Manager for Asia at Arla Foods Ingredients, told NutraIngredients-Asia.
Additionally, Chen cited alpha-lactalbumin, whey protein hydrolysates, milk fat globule membrane (MFGM), and osteopontin as examples of what Chinese consumers are looking for.
Going forward, both companies will place emphasis on helping manufacturers improve the nutritional profile of formula milk, and other products for infants and toddlers.
Arla Foods Ingredients’ patented ORIGIN process extracts proteins, lactose, and fat directly from milk using filtration technology. Unlike whey derived from cheesemaking, milk does not go through multiple processes before turning into a raw material for organic infant formula.
“The rising interest in organic infant formula has led to growing demand for organic whey and lactose. Our milk fractionation technology, which has been organic-certified in China, enables manufacturers to easily bypass organic whey shortages. It means that we can obtain ingredients from fresh, organic milk at consistently higher quality.”
In the performance nutrition space, Arla Foods Ingredients recognises potential for further growth in sports nutrition, nutrition for seniors, and dietary supplements.
“We have a range of innovative protein solutions that can appeal to active consumers in China. Beta-lactoglobulin (BLG) is the key component that makes whey protein a high-quality protein source. Lacprodan BLG-100 is a pure BLG ingredient produced using ORIGIN, and contains 45% more leucine — the main muscle-building amino acid — than commercially available whey protein isolates.”
As for the F&B sector, strong opportunities have been observed in categories such as beverage and bakery.
“Demand for yoghurt drinks has risen hugely in China in recent years, and many manufacturers are choosing protein fortification to make their products stand out. Our Nutrilac solutions (100% natural whey protein) enable the production of protein-enriched yoghurt drinks without compromising on taste and texture.
“The Nutrilac range can also be applied in baked goods — another category that has expanded rapidly in China over the past few years. As the ingredients share similar properties as eggs, sensory evaluations have showed that cakes made with Nutrilac retain a moister, fresher feel throughout their shelf life.”
With the extended partnership, Arla Foods Ingredients and Zhongbai Xingye hope to build on their gains in the Chinese market so far.
This includes the jointly funded Innovation & Application Center in Zhongbai’s Beijing facility, where China-specific formulations are developed.
“China is a fast-growing hub for dairy innovation, and it is vital that products are targeted to meet local expectations. Claims such as ‘made with real ingredients’ are really important in the Chinese market, for example. Zhongbai has a wealth of expertise and local knowledge, which has been crucial to our success in China.
“Both companies still see huge potential for future expansion, particularly in key segments like performance nutrition. As part of the new agreement, the Innovation & Application Center will be expanded with additional application-specific capabilities, increasing the potential for products to be tailored to local market needs,” Chen shared.