The company will be expanding the manufacturing capacity of its factory in Germany.
The aim is to increase the production capacity to 170 tons, which is more than double its production size in FY2019.
The factory in Germany is operated by its subsidiary MILEI GmbH, which manufactures and sells whey protein concentration, lactose, and lactoferrin. This is also the only lactoferrin factory that the company owns.
A total investment of EUR$15m (US$17.8m) will be poured and the expanded facilities are expected to launch in next April.
Morinaga said the additional lactoferrin produced would be used in about 30 of its branded products, such as yogurt, supplement, infant formula, and milk powder.
An example is the milk powder brand “Milk Life” for adults. Aside from lactoferrin, the product also contains bidifidobacteria. In fact, the product sales had shot up by 140% from April to October this year.
Recently, the company also launched “Milk Life Plus Trial” exclusively for sale on the e-Commerce channel. This is a sachet version of “Milk Life” and could be delivered via regular mail. As such, it is suitable for consumers who want to avoid face-to-face delivery amid the pandemic.
Infant formula “Morinaga Hagukumi” is another example which uses lactoferrin, on top of DHA and oligosaccharides.
“Infant formula is the major product containing lactoferrin and the demand for supplement is also increasing,” Tamami Shibata from the public relations department told NutraIngredients-Asia.
MILEI tops the global market in terms of lactoferrin production, with Asian and Western countries as the top markets, Shibata said, citing data from Absolute Reports.
“There was already a high demand for lactoferrin before pre-COVID period as there is a rise in health awareness, this trend is expected to evolve continuously due to COVID-19,” she said.
The company also sells lactoferrin as an ingredient to other businesses. One example is the branded ingredient ‘Orabarrier’, which combines lactoferrin with lactoperoxidase and claims to preserve oral health by exhibiting antimicrobial effects.
“Considering the increased demand of infant formula and supplement promoting health function of lactoferrin, the demand of lactoferrin for Morinaga’s own products and functional ingredients to other companies are also expected to grow in the long term,” Shibata said.
Expanding its lactoferrin business and strengthening the production systems to meet growing demand is one of the strategies that Morinaga has to grow its sales.
The sales revenue of its drinkable yogurt containing lactoferrin and lactoferrin supplement have increased by 110% during April to October due to heightened awareness on health and nutrition.
“There is an increasing awareness of health and immunity across the whole of society, in part because of the spread of COVID-19, and we expect this to drive further growth in the demand for bifidobacterial and lactoferrin,” the company said in its integrated report 2020.
There has been a steady increase in the number of published research papers that study lactoferrin since the 1970s, the company observed.
Citing data from PubMed, the firm said nearly 2,900 research papers on lactoferrin have been published worldwide from 2011 to 2020.
In 2001 to 2010, this number was slightly lower at 2,344. In the 1970s, only 333 papers have been published.
Existing findings have shown that lactoferrin supplementation is able to reduce the incidence of sepsis in low-birth-weight neonates. In another human clinical trial, women who took lactoferrin tablets for three months reported a lower incidence of common cold-related symptoms.