FINLAND – Finnish dairy supplier, Valio, has revealed measures to address food safety issues in the infant milk formula market which has recently heightened regulations within the market.
According to Emmi Martikainen, the company’s head of product development in powders and baby foods, food safety requirements and regulations for baby food have become stricter and more important to these products compared to twenty years ago.
Although food safety has always been an essential aspect of baby food products, the company assured that measures to teach more about microbes are also important and should be placed.
“We need to make risk assessments to determine which ingredients and raw materials we can use, audit all our suppliers, analyze water quality, update packaging materials and ensure these meet the standards,” Emmi revealed.
“We are also certified to different international standards. This provides us with an operational framework to develop new products.”
At the same time, the company noted that there are more opportunities for product development in the growing infant nutrition market.
Citing data from Innova Market Insights, Valio noted that product launches in baby and toddler categories have grown by 5% annually in the last five years indicating a steep growth in product launches with a plant-based claim, growing by 62% from 2018 to 2022.
“We have been in the consumer product market for over 100 years. Our national market and traditional dairy products are crucial to us and we have many innovations among them,” Harri Kallionen, Valio’s SVP said.
“During the last few years, we have seen that plant-based products have come to the same shelves and should be developed further.”
In addition, she noted that companies in this sector, including Valio, aim to develop formulas closer to the golden standard of human breast milk.
“At the same time, we see overarching food trends, such as growing demand for sustainability, holistic health and convenience,” she said.
“Developing products that meet the needs of different age groups is another opportunity, and I see plant-based food as an opportunity for us.”
Valio has invested heavily in R&D, allowing the research and development team to come up with new products.
The company added that the team can utilize the expertise and dairy product knowledge when developing new ingredients for different applications to cater for the global need for new products.
It added that It’s quite evident that there is a need to be sustainable in all the production processes since there also exists a market for dairy products, which are produced in more environmentally friendly ways.
“We aim to become carbon neutral by 2035, covering the whole value chain, from the fields to our factories. We know that a significant part of CO2 emissions happens at the beginning of the value chain.”