French dairy giant Danone has launched a new convenience format for its Aptimal brand of infant formula, which will be made at its baby formula plant in Wexford.
The company announced on Wednesday that it will trial a new pre-measured cube format for its Aptamil range of infant formula in the UK, where the brand is by far the market leader.
Danone said it had signed a manufacturing partnership for this new product format with Meiji, the largest infant formula company in Japan, which owns the technology patent to manufacture this format of baby formula.
Danone said it will trial the new pre-measured cube format for its infant formula exclusively through Boots in the UK market for up to a year before reviewing the sales data and consumer feedback.
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Danone’s factory director at the Wexford plant Jean Michel Lequin said the trial of this new format for infant formula was the result of a consumer study carried out by Danone in 2018.
“The feedback from UK parents in this study was that they want a more convenient infant formula product, particularly for feeding on the go or for nighttime feeds. They wanted something that had ease of use,” said Lequin.
“We think this product format will be a real breakthrough. Not only is it very convenient for parents, but they never have to touch the pre-measured infant formula tabs, which is really positive from a hygiene perspective,” he said.
As part of the trial, Lequin said Danone had co-invested with Meiji to install the necessary processing technology at its Wexford plant to produce this new product line.
Danone’s facility in Wexford is one of the largest infant formula plants in the world, processing and packing over 100,000t of finished and semi-finished baby formula every year.
The UK is the largest sales market for product manufactured at Danone’s Wexford plant.
Danone also operates an infant formula processing site at Macroom in Co Cork, which is the single-largest infant formula plant in the world.
Pending the results of this trial, Lequin said the plan will be to extend this new product format to other European markets.