Aussie firm ViPlus Dairy receives infant formula approval for China

By Cheryl Tay

- Last updated on GMT

The company can now sell three of its infant formula products under China's new regulatory regime. ©iStock
The company can now sell three of its infant formula products under China's new regulatory regime. ©iStock

Related tags Infant formula Milk China

Victoria-based manufacturer ViPlus Dairy claims to be the first Australian producer of locally made infant formula to be approved by the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA).

This approval means the company can sell three of its infant formula products — two made with cow's milk and one with goat's milk — in the country from January next year, when a stricter new regulatory system will take effect.

The company has said this development represents a considerable boost for domestic employment; it currently employs 40 full-time workers at its plant in Toora, South Gippsland, and plans to increase its employee count over the next year and a half as it ramps up international sales.

CEO Peter Cunningham told Australian media: "The CFDA (China Food and Drug Administration) registration shows the quality of milk powder produced by ViPlus.

"The fact that we are the first Australian infant formula manufacturer to get the tick of approval by the Chinese government shows Gippsland can lead the country in baby formula exports."

Slashing competition

The new regulations in China are expected to reduce the number of infant formula producers on the market, removing much competition for many Australian infant formula firms that are trusted by consumers and have received approval from the CFDA.

Thanks to numerous food safety scandals, most notably the melamine-tainted milk scandal in 2008 that killed six infants and caused 300,000 more to fall ill, Chinese consumers have been relying on Australian imports, which they tend to consider safe and high-quality.

ViPlus itself sources its formulas and base milk powders from Fonterra and Burra Foods before canning them at its Toora plant. For five years, the company has been selling its infant formula in China, one of its overseas markets, where the bulk of its products are sold.

Cunningham said, "At the moment, they've got over 2,000 formulas in the market, and it's just far too many to manage and to control. So they've gone through the process and said that each factory, whether it be local or offshore, can only have a maximum of three. So it will drop down to a couple of hundred."

Eastern ambition

ViPlus' international sales and marketing manager Chris McKiernan said, "As important, if not even more important now, is my focus on opening up new markets across South East Asia, and that includes the Middle East.

"We'll be having product moving into the UAE within six to eight weeks, our first consignment. And we have been doing business with Cambodia already for the bulk of 2017. We will expand operations throughout the Indonesian market, Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore."

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