Infant formula expansion: Valio receives Chinese export permit

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10 Jan 2019 --- Valio’s consumer-packaged infant formulas have received an export permit from the Chinese authorities, which will allow the company to export its powdered infant formulas into China. The infant formulas are manufactured at the Lapinlahti plant in Finland, while the ready-to-feed liquid infant formulas are manufactured at the Turenki plant, in southern Finland.  

Valio has exported milk powders and demineralized Valio Demi whey powders for industrial use in China since the 1990s. Finnish milk powders have been used, among other things, as ingredients for local baby food. In 2017, Valio also started to export consumer-packaged milk powder to China.

“We want to strengthen our position in China as a trusted supplier of high-quality industrial ingredients. At the same time, we are building a consumer product market. Naturally, we are looking to generate new revenue. But profitable growth does not happen in the blink of an eye. Valio is, as of yet, an unknown brand in China, so there is a lot to do. In the first phase, we are engaging in negotiations with potential customers,” says Jussi Mattsson, Valio’s category SVP. 

The new permits open up China’s growing infant formula market to Valio, says the company.  

Speaking to NutritionInsight, Mattsson comments: “We launched consumer milk powders in China in 2017 and now we can start exporting the infant formulas made in Finland from pure, Finnish milk.”

“We do expect growth of the consumer demand in China. The birth rate has slowed down, but the number of customers is high. Furthermore, the segment that wants to invest in premium products continues to grow,” he continues. 

“The infant formula market is a very competitive space, but our competitive edge is one of the cleanest raw materials in the world. Chinese parents have a great desire to invest in their children's well-being and many of them choose premium products,” Mattsson explains. 

Competition for consumer attention between dairies is heated. “In China, online stores, markets and baby supply store shelves are filled with choices from dozens of manufacturers. Valio’s strengths include Finland’s pure natural environment and extremely high-quality milk, provided directly by our owners, 5,000 Finnish dairy farms. Chinese parents want, most of all, safe food for their children,” he adds. 

Valio has invested in producing high-quality powders and infant formulas for several decades. In 2014, a new powder plant was opened at Lapinlahti, meeting the most stringent of quality criteria. In the 2010s, China has been revamping its food legislation and permit procedures for imported food products. Many Valio production plants have already received approvals to manufacture milk powder, cheese and butter for the Chinese market.

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