Raúl Camarena
General Manager
Aspen Labs Mexico
View from the Top

Baby Formula: The Cash Cow of Nutrition

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 17:06

Q: What products did Aspen Labs launch in 2016 to address the needs of the Mexican population?

A: In the nutrition segment, we launched our Infacare formula, which complies with all requirements established by the WHO. Our installed capacity at Aspen Labs’ Vallejo plant in Mexico City gives us the ability to offer this product at a competitive price compared to what is traditionally available in the Mexican market. Our product is superior in quality to the dominant market equivalent and costs 10 percent less than that of our competitors. For those that require an infant formula, it is a great advantage to have a product that is not only accessible but of the best quality and efficacy.

Q: Is this formula designed for both healthy babies and those with complications?

A: This product would be suitable for healthy babies who require formula because their mothers cannot breastfeed, for example. Infacare is part of a portfolio that we acquired in 2013. Infacare 1 is for babies aged 0-6 months, Infacare 2 for those aged 6-12 months and Infacare 3 for those over 12 months. We have another line for children who have a medical complication. However, we always emphasize the importance of breastfeeding as part of our core values and principles.

Mexico has made great advances in promoting maternal milk, which we support. A few years ago, for example, mothers had to take their maternity leave 45 days before the birth of the baby and return to work 45 days after. In 2016, the labor law was changed and now a mother can take her leave from the day before giving birth and up to 90 days after. This encourages mothers to breastfeed, to be closer to and spend more time with the baby. To give mothers even more time with their babies and to deal with any situation that might arise, Aspen Labs provides its employees an extra 30 days maternity leave.

Q: What are the main issues in infant nutrition in Mexico?

A: The main issue with babies is undernutrition or malnutrition, which becomes obesity later in childhood and which is a major problem. There are also allergy issues that present during the lactation period and as babies begin to consume solid food such as mash or juices. Mexican families quickly acclimatize babies to the family diet, which causes serious obesity problems. The health system ends up dealing with the fallout from that.

Q: To what extent do you carry out R&D in Mexico for specific formulas and conditions?

A: We launched a significant project in the second half of 2017 to develop a new formula that addresses the needs of Mexican babies and toddlers. The project is being developed with renowned players in the public and private sectors that are dedicated to this matter.

Q: What factors are driving growth in your infant nutrition sector and what are your expectations for 2017?

A: We saw significant growth in our nutritional segment due to the fact that, for the first time in many years, we won a public tender to provide nutrition for babies aged 0-6 months and 6-12 months. This broke paradigms because for 20 years the tender had been won exclusively by one firm. Our milk sales are not growing in the private sector due to complicated market conditions, although we hope that the launch of the new versions of Infacare will help us resume growth in this sphere in 2017