Major China infant formula brand Feihe’s patent application for a special medical use goat milk powder has been granted, with market observers now expecting the company to expand its range and retail channels.
The full-nutrition Foods for Special Medical Purpose (FSMP) is a powder formula based on goat milk, according to information stated on the published patent document.
It also contains ingredients such as concentrated whey protein, hydrolysed casein powder, and medium-chain triglyceride (MCT).
It claims to be a formula that could be easily digested and absorbed and is suitable for “normal and diseased crowds”, as well as individuals with restricted dietary requirements.
This is another new move from the company after launching its first A2 milk variant in December last year.
In China, FSMPs can be broadly categorised into infant formula or a full-nutrition formula.
A full-nutrition FSMP could be suitable for use by individuals aged 1 to 10 or for individuals above 10 years old.
An example of a full-nutrition formula that has hit the market is PediaSure Xiao An Su (小安素) by Abbott.
The product contains three types of plant-based protein, 27 vitamins and minerals, and medium-chain triglyceride (MCT).
It is targeted at children between one and 10 years old and are experiencing under-undernutrition due to digestive and nutrient absorption problems.
In the case of Feihe, it is not stated the age group that patented formula is for.
Market observers believe that Feihe is attempting to expand its product range as it increases its capabilities.
“Feihe’s portfolio is maturing…These expansions evidence Feihe’s confidence in its ability to meet the health needs and tastes of Chinese consumers, across different milk bases,” Michael Norris, research and strategy manager at Agency China said in response to queries from NutraIngredients-Asia.
Independent consultant and co-founder of New Zealand Milk Bar, Jane Li, said Feihe might be looking to expand its retail channel into the hospitals by entering into the FSMPs sector.
“Hospitals are highly effective, high-volume channel in China. If companies classify their products for medical use, they could potentially sell their products in the hospital retail channel.”
In China, FSMPs have to be consumed under the supervision of doctors or clinical dietitians.
Feihe is the second top-selling infant formula brand in China with a market share of 13.3% as of 2019, only behind Nestle which has a market share of 13.5%, according to Statista.
Li believes that to keep growing, Feihe will need to differentiate itself further to remain competitive, which explains the reasons for moving into FSMPs.
Nestle leading the FSMP market
Nestle is the major players in China’s Foods for Special Medical Purposes (FSMPs) as of October last year. A tabulation by China regulatory firm CIRS showed that 55 products were approved as FSMPs as of last October.
Of which, 11 are from Nestle, eight are from Abbott, and five are from local Chinese firm Synutra.
The rest are mainly made up of local Chinese firms such as infant formula makers Beingmate, Yili, and MNCs such as Mead Johnson.