Spring in its step: New Zealand sheep milk firm reveals APAC expansion plans for infant and toddler formula

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

The firm's Gentle Sheep Premium Toddler Formula ©Spring Sheep
The firm's Gentle Sheep Premium Toddler Formula ©Spring Sheep

Related tags: Infant formula, toddler formula, New zealand, Spring Sheep

New Zealand’s Spring Sheep Milk Co will launch its Gentle Sheep Premium Toddler Formula (stage 3) into more APAC markets this year, following its initial debut in Malaysia.

The firm will next turn its attention to its home market and China, followed by other Asian nations, and then Australia next year. The product is for toddlers aged one to three.

In an interview with NutraIngredients-Asia​, CEO Scottie Chapman explained why the firm decided to first launch the product in Malaysia. “We wanted to enter a market in Asia that is representative of all the Asian markets, and we found Malaysia to be a sophisticated market.”

The company plans to launch its toddler formula in New Zealand within the year, which will be available in mother and baby stores, supermarkets and pharmacies.

It is expanding into China later this year through cross-border e-commerce platform Tmall, and other Asian countries in sight include Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Singapore.

The company is also working on launching its stage 1 and 2 infant formulas in Asia, adding more distribution across both online and offline channels.

It also produces full cream sheep milk powder for adults and children above four, as well as sheep milk calcium tablets (containing probiotics, vitamin D3, and DHA).

The milk powder was launched in New Zealand and Taiwan in 2016, and the tablets hit the Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia markets in 2017.

Benefits

The company uses New Zealand grass-fed sheep milk from its flock of 10,000 sheep across farms in the Central North Island, however this season, only 6,500 will be milked. The milk is then spray-dried into powder at Food & Innovation Waikato, and used in its tablets, powder, and formula ranges.

Chapman added that its products contained no added sucrose, growth hormones and were non-GMO.

He said sheep milk contain all the essential amino acids, was easily digestible for children, and gentle on the stomach.

In addition, sheep milk naturally contains only A2-type protein only, not A1 that is found in cow’s milk. The latter can cause digestive discomfort for some people.

COVID-19 impact

Chapman told us demand for its sheep milk dairy products had been stronger since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly with China’s government backing the consumption of dairy for immune health​.

The Chinese government and four major dairy industry associations formed a set of guidelines indicating that milk and other dairy products were  an excellent source of high-quality protein, vitamins A, B2, calcium and other nutrients.

It stated in a formal statement: “A higher intake of these products for those low in protein, especially when higher immune resistance is required to fight the novel coronavirus, will be very beneficial​.”

They advised a daily intake of 300g of liquid milk or equivalent dairy products.

Based on the Chinese government’s advice that dairy will boost the immune system, and help fight COVID-19, we have seen demand for our products rise considerably​,” Chapman said.

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