In 2013, Dingle left Synlait Milk — which he had co-founded — to set up Nuchev, which specialises in goat's milk products.
Since then, the Australian firm's goat milk infant formula brand Oli6 has experienced considerable domestic growth, and enjoyed export success in China.
It is now sold in over 1,000 pharmacies in Australia, where Nuchev has partnered with Chemist Warehouse to stock Oli6’s three goat milk formula product lines in all 356 of its stores.
The goat-to alternative
In an interview with NutraIngredients-Asia, Dingle said, "The goat milk infant formula sector is growing very quickly. In Australia, for example, it's gone from $3m to roughly $100m in four years. In China, it's growing at about 10 times the speed of cow milk infant formula."
Currently, goat milk formula accounts for 10.6% of Australia's overall formula sector.
"People are thinking about health and wellness; they're more savvy about food intolerances. And when it comes to their children, price isn't the most important factor when they make buying decisions."
Indeed, goat's milk is becoming increasingly popular: Dingle believes it is easier to digest than cow's milk, beneficial for gut health, and suitable for sensitive stomachs and those allergic to cow's milk.
He said, "Some babies just don't cope well with cow's milk, and their reactions range from mild discomfort to severe allergies or intolerance. There are also parents who simply don't want to risk it.”
He believes his Synlait association helped to ease Nuchev’s entry into China's infant formula market.
He told us: "My reputation in China through my Synlait history has been useful. People check you out; that's natural because they want to know whom they're doing business with, so my work in China has been helpful in that regard."
Despite this, he maintains that the Chinese market is "no more challenging than anywhere else", though stricter regulations in China have posed challenges for many infant formula manufacturers.
"Chinese mothers want to see you actually exist and sell products in your home market. If you don't, they won't buy your products. It's one of the critical elements of success for any infant formula brand in any offshore market."
Dingle prefers not to reveal Nuchev's growth figures or go into detail about its expansion plans, though he let on that "there are a number of countries we're looking at; we're in advanced discussions with parties in a number of jurisdictions".
"There are a lot of countries around the world where we see demand for goat infant formula. We need to be focused on what we want to do now and what we want to put aside for another day," he added.
"Asia is and will always be the centre of our activity, but there are also opportunities in the Middle East and the Americas."
He pointed to Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and South Korea as countries Nuchev has its eye on for the future.
He further said Nuchev may branch out from infant formula to aged care: "There are opportunities at the other end of life. People are living longer, being more active in old age, and looking to make sure health and nutrition are better for themselves."