Asahi, which owns the infant-and-mother nutrition brand Wakodo, will be collaborating with Nutifood to introduce in Vietnam nutritional food products for children, which will be developed according to Japanese standards.
The joint venture, named Asahi-Nutifood, aims to combine and utilise the qualities of each company to improve children's health and nutrition in Vietnam, where a lack of public health knowledge and the prevalence of malnutrition are pertinent issues.
Nutifood is well established in Vietnam, with long-term business expertise and a comprehensive network of distribution channels, while Asahi's powdered milk and baby food are considered to be among the highest quality products in their respective categories.
Adaptation and education
The initial phase of the joint venture will see the products developed in Asahi's factories in Japan for direct import to Vietnam. Nutifood experts will advise Asahi on product formulation and ingredients that will best suit the tastes and needs of Vietnamese children.
However, Asahi and Nutifood have chosen not to reveal further details on these products or where they will be sold, saying they will make an announcement later in the year.
Trần Thị Lệ, general director of the joint venture, has said that apart from offering its advise and expertise in developing products suited to Vietnamese children, Nutifood’s focus would be on providing support for the healthy growth and development of infants and children in Vietnam.
The company also aims to provide important public education to Vietnamese mothers about Japanese healthcare and nutrition.
At present, Nutifood has been certified by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to export a special nutritional supplement for children, and has is also working with BASF and the Sweden-based Backahill Company to ensure the application of international standards to dairy products made for children.
Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, an Asahi Group spokesperson said the company had chosen to partner with Nutifood due to its strong scientific standing and its extensive sales and distribution network in Vietnam.
"Since Nutifood was founded by doctors and pharmacists to aid in the healthy development of Vietnamese children, they are very familiar with the ways in which we can support not just the health of infants, but that of mothers as well."
Indeed, the health of Vietnamese mothers is equally important, as expectant and breastfeeding women in the country are often under-nourished.
The spokesperson added, "They also have a nationwide sales network in Vietnam that provides a big benefit for this partnership, and will allow us to better meet consumer demand. Furthermore, the background, establishment and philosophy of Nutifood are quite close to those of Wakodo's."
Launched in 2017, Asahi's Wakodo range of baby food was founded and developed by Professor Tsukasa Hirota, a pioneer in Japanese paediatrics.
It boasts the first Japan-made infant formula, Kinomeal, as well as the first Japan-made baby food, Grismeal.
Wakodo also features nutritional products for expectant and breastfeeding mothers, including powdered beverages, dietary supplements, and candies fortified with folic acid.
The spokesperson said: "We've been selling Wakodo's baby food and infant formula products in Vietnam since 2007, and we believe that the brand's products have been regarded as part of a safe and reliable Japanese brand."
When it comes to the possibility of similar partnerships with other companies in the region, however, the spokesperson said Asahi did not have any specific plans at the moment to enter such partnerships in other APAC countries.