The demand for functionality and organic status has increased in the last few years worldwide, even extending to infant formula products.
Could this space be revolutionised by added benefits such as the inclusion of prebiotics?
Liz Sauer Williamson is the CEO and co-founder of infant formula brand Löwenzahn Organics, which specialises in bringing functional infant formula to market.
FoodBev Media: Could you detail a little bit about how you came to found Löwenzahn Organics?
Williamson: Becoming a mum changes you. Together with my co-founders, Carmen and Alice, we wanted to create a new standard for organic baby foods by blending the best organic produce together with the latest in nutritional science and product origin traceability.
We share a passion to offer toddlers and newborns products the best taste, highest quality ingredients and latest nutritional innovations, that as adults we have come to expect in our own consumption.
As the founders of Löwenzahn, what obstacles have you faced in bringing a brand new formula to market?
It’s a tough and competitive market, the barriers to entry are huge, and you are competing with multinational companies that have been in the market for over 80 years. Add on top of that bringing a very complicated and technical product to a high trust category.
We have had some obstacles, but like most women, we are very determined and persistent.
What is the significance of including prebiotics in infant formula?
Prebiotics help to establish friendly gut bacteria for your little one. We add GOS (prebiotics) into all of our formulas. GOS stands for galactooligosaccharides. Oligosaccharides are naturally present in breast milk in the form of human milk oligosaccharides (HMO).
Are parents looking for functional benefits in the formula they give their children?
Yes, we know that parents are looking for advanced nutritional thinking when it comes to infant formula – the clear evidence of that is the market leader Aptamil, which is a very functional and conventional product.
Our goal was to create the highest standard in infant formula, both in nutritional functional benefits and with the highest standard of organic produce.
When you have a baby, you become aware of ensuring you are giving your baby everything that they need. Are they getting enough vitamins and minerals, and are they hitting their developmental milestones? You are growing a human being, and you are solely responsible for that person. The products you give your child must not only look good, but perform.
“We know that parents are looking for advanced nutritional thinking when it comes to infant formula.”
How has Löwenzahn approached the use of palm oil?
This is a really tough subject for us. We researched extensively on alternatives for palm oil for infant formula, but the current alternatives just don’t stack up.
Some alternative oils cause foaming in the baby’s stomach, others create an end-product that is not stable for having a shelf life, which is problematic.
Our goal is to provide babies with the best nutritional composition for age-appropriate development. The peculiarity is that the palmitic acid occurs in breast milk in large quantities and primarily in the middle of the triglyceride. This helps the baby build a functioning fatty acid metabolism. In addition, palmitic acid improves the absorption of calcium.
When it comes to sourcing it, RSPO certified palm oil was critical. Our palm oil comes from Columbia, from farms certified as sustainable by complying to environmental and social criteria set out by the RSPO.
The hunt for a better alternative is definitely heating up.
What is your stance on GMO?
Thankfully we are in the EU and GMOs are banned. We are proud to be GMO-free, and always will be.
What personally frightens me about GMOs is the corporate vehicles behind bringing GMO seeds to market and the pressure that those vehicles place on farmers. Farmers, who are, at the end of the day, the caretakers of the land.
Was there a good intention behind GMOs, sure, but in context of the environment, where modified plants are bred to be insect resistant, this concerns me. Bugs also have their place in the broader food chain and eco-system. We still don’t know what the knock-on effect is from that.
Liz Sauer Williamson was speaking with FoodBev Media’s Harriet Jachec.
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