Human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) is a naturally-occurring ingredient found in breastmilk which helps promote the growth of infants, but this ingredient is not present in many infant nutrition products, making it difficult for women who cannot breastfeed to provide optimum nutrition for their children.
However, companies such as DuPont Nutrition and Health are in the process of formulating products which include this ingredient, partially mimicking the effects of breastmilk and providing the health benefits this entails.
DuPont Health and Nutrition’s Steen Lyck, global business director HMO, spoke at the Food and Beverage Innovation Forum 2018 (FBIF2018) in Shanghai, China about the benefits of HMO, and he spoke with FoodBev’s Martin White to provide further details on this breakthrough.
Can you tell us a little bit about HMOs and their importance in early life nutrition? Can DuPont’s HMO infant nutrition products provide the same nutritional benefits for infants as breastmilk?
HMO cannot mimic the composition of human milk. What we can do, is mimic some of the health-promoting properties of breastmilk, such as promoting a bifidobacterial rich microbiota that is known to be an important health promoter from birth through early life
We see brands using claims like ‘similar to breast milk’, and the WHO has established clear guidance on that. Where do you think the balance is? Is there anything you just can’t replicate between human milk and HMO formula milk?
It’s important to underline that nobody is trying to replace breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is and will always be number one! But we also must recognise that some women cannot breastfeed. And for that HMO now enables improvement of the next best alternative.
How important is Chinese to the early-life nutrition markets? Does DuPont see the Chinese and Asia Pacific region as a key area for future growth in the early-life nutrition category? What are the most important markets?
Everybody is looking at China, both the multinationals and key players in Asia Pacific region. And for a good reason – it is considered one of the most important and growing markets for premium infant formula. The Chinese mother wants the best for her baby, and is willing to pay a premium to get it.
What are consumers demanding in terms of infant formula – is grass-fed dairy important, is organic dairy important, etc?
I think premiumisation like organic or with added probiotics and/or HMO could be important differentiators for infant formula producers, either with or without targeted health claims. The consumers demand unique products they can relate to, that are safe and well documented.
Do you have plans to release any new products in the region in the near future? If so can you tell us a little bit about them?
We just launched 2’-FL and have other HMO, like 3-FL in the pipeline as well as other health-promoting ingredients for early life nutrition. And we will of cause support ingredient launches in the region with clinical studies with Asian population.
Steen Lyck spoke at the Food and Beverage Innovation Forum 2018 (FBIF2018) in Shanghai, China, hosted by Simba Events
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019
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