Created in 2011 as part of the Nestlé Group, Switzerland-headquartered Nestlé Health Science now produces more than nine billion products each year through its global network of 3,000 employees. Developing products for both clinical nutrition and consumer care channels, the business unit is focused on nine core areas: gastro-intestinal; aging, critical care/surgery; brain health; pediatrics; chronic medical conditions/oncology; obesity, food allergy and metabolic diseases.
With offices in Mexico and Brazil, Nestlé Health Science runs most of its Latin American business out of Brazil, where it also has a production facility. Brazil represents the fifth-largest market in health science for Nestlé.
Clinical versus consumer nutrition
Speaking to NutraIngredients-LATAM, LATAM head of Nestlé Health Science Monica Meale said although clinical nutrition was region's biggest business base, there was “greater potential for retail”.
“We have been observing great potential in the retail segment, particularly with food supplements and the entry of new categories, focusing on healthy aging, which include prevention and also supplementation,” Meale said.
Nestlé Health Science had already established a number of products that tapped into this under its Nutren brand, she said, including nutritional powder mixes for beverages and ready-to-drink milks targeting the senior and beauty segments.
Meale said it was important to target consumer care with a “more holistic view” but healthy aging certainly remained Latin America's biggest health concern.
“We notice that people are more concerned about healthy aging and there is a kind of quest for a better quality of life, in order to meet the specific needs of the body during the aging process.”
She said Nestlé Health Nutrition would therefore continue to invest in research and development to assist product developments in this area, supported by science and diagnostics from the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences (NHSc).
“Nestlé Health Science has global R&D guidelines but also looks at the peculiarities of each region or country. By investing in innovation and producing cutting-edge science, we are creating a new industry that permeates food and pharmaceuticals,” she said. “...We also invest and innovate in technology platforms we call 'Novel Therapeutic Nutrition'. The aim is to discover and expand the therapeutic role of nutrition, to fill gaps and/or nutritional needs associated with health conditions.”
Asked if Nestlé Health Science had any expansion plans for Latin America in the coming years, Meale said: “Our operations in Brazil already comprise all of Latin America, whether via distributors, imports or own production. But we are always looking at potential opportunities.”
She said the leading markets in the region were Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Colombia.
Nestlé Health Science recently inaugurated a $70m global R&D center in New Jersey, USA – the company's most important product technology center globally.