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Grass-Fed infant formula an industry first

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-16 13:25
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A child tries a Munchkin milk product during a visit to one of the company's facilities in New Zealand. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Munchkin Inc, a California-based infant and toddler products company, has vowed to scale up its presence in the Chinese market by providing more of its high-quality products.

The company has entered into the infant formula market with the launch of Grass Fed, a formula that uses 100 percent milk from grass-fed cows as its dairy source.

This is a first in the industry, as most such products use milk from cows that are fed with a mix of grain rations and grass.

The infant formula uses milk produced in New Zealand and became available to Chinese consumers on cross-border e-commerce platforms seven months ago, with the product witnessing substantial growth, according to Steve Dunn, founder and CEO of Munchkin.

"Chinese consumers have been really receptive to the product and its proposition. The reuse rate is extremely high. We see a robust market there owing to Chinese mothers' preference for safer and more premium baby formulas, the consumption upgrade and the universal second-child policy, that have helped to adopt and grow this new category and lead a new trend," he said.

Assure Quality, an independent inspection organization wholly owned by the government of New Zealand, has certified Munchkin's Grass Fed formula as the world's first and only 100 percent grass-fed product of its kind so far.

The organization renewed its certification for the product for another year in Shanghai on Monday.

Dunn said Munchkin, which has sold over 140 other baby products in the Chinese market for three years, plans to launch domestic online and offline sales channels in China. The company is in the middle of the regulatory application process for the domestic launch of the product, he added.

There is significant scientific data about the positive correlation between the quality of milk and how much grass the cows eat, Dunn said.

If the cows eat a 100 percent grass-fed diet, the proportion of a certain unsaturated fat called conjugated linoleic acid, which helps to boost the immune system, in their milk is five times higher than in milk produced by cows fed with processed grains. The ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is also improved, and the milk contains higher levels of vitamins A and E.

Dunn said 20 selected farmers supply the grass-fed milk. The cows are raised outside in pastures all year round and undergo a maximum of two milkings per day

Officials from AsureQuality-a testing organization wholly owned by the New Zealand government-issue the 2019 annual certification for Munchkin Grass Fed Infant Formula in Shanghai. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Munchkin's products have been sold in the United States, Australia and New Zealand for roughly a year, and consumers have generally responded that their babies seem to digest the formula better and have softer stools, Dunn said.

Damon Paling, trade commissioner at the consulate general of New Zealand in Shanghai, said the New Zealand government endorsed the grass-fed baby formula and expected such products to raise dairy industry standards to a higher level.

Dunn said the company also plans to develop products for adults, and to bring them to the Chinese market to meet the premium and diversified dairy needs across various age groups.

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