The Swiss food giant is expanding its product offering for expecting and lactating women. The products to be added will target to help reduce health risks related to motherhood. The business could generate $500 million to $1 billion in 10 years, according to Thierry Philardeau, head of Nestle nutrition business.
Philardeau said in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Vevey, “We want to be at the junction of food and pharma. The potential is huge.”
Currently, Nestle offers a range of product supplements aimed at helping to prevent gestational diabetes, to fortified milk powder for mothers. In the future, products under Nestle’s Materna brand might include infused teas or supplements intended to ward off premature births.
These products could broaden Nestles reach to mothers who do not buy its infant formula, offering growth opportunities in a market that is vulnerable to the slowing pace of births in much of the world. Chief Executive Officer Mark Schneider is pushing to expand the company’s fastest-growing businesses, which also include coffee and pet food while scaling back in sluggish areas like packaged meat and candy.
In baby food, Nestle is the market leader, with 20 percent of the $82 billion business, according to Euromonitor International. But competition is heating up among the Swiss company, Danone and Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc, which acquired Mead Johnson in 2017. New Zealand-based upstart A2 Milk Co has been gaining ground in the key Chinese market with a type of infant formula that is easier to digest, which has prompted the Swiss company to follow suit.
Malnutrition and obesity in pregnancy increase the risk of a long list of health issues for offspring, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to the World Health Organization.
Convincing mothers of the benefits of supplements is the biggest challenge, Philardeau said. Nestle is meeting with gynaecologists and pharmacies and is boosting its sales force.