NZ formula finds lucrative Chinese market
A Christchurch-based company is launching a New Zealand-made infant formula, which it will sell in New Zealand and China, in Christchurch today.
Carrickmore Nutrition managing director Chris Claridge and his father Richard formed the company 18 months ago with backing from American investors.
The first shipment of 36,000 cans of Carrickmore infant formula leaves for China on Friday, and will appear on shelves in the South Island next week.
The company had orders for "hundreds of thousands" of the 900-gram cans of the product, Chris Claridge said. "Our food standards and quality of dairy produce is a competitive advantage in China," he said.
Fonterra supplies the milk base for Carrickmore's formula, and other ingredients are added at the canning stage, which takes place in Auckland.
Gentech Food, based in Guangzhou and Shanghai, is Carrickmore's master distributor for China. Gentech distributes infant products to more than 600 stores throughout China.
Carrickmore had forward orders for the next three years, Claridge said.
In New Zealand Carrickmore has a sole- distribution agreement with Foodstuffs South Island, through its subsidiary Trents.
The company plans to begin distributing its product in the lower North Island towards the end of the year, and the upper North Island early next year.
The company would manage its supply chain carefully, because babies did not like changing, Claridge said.
Carrickmore had signed a memorandum of understanding on research partnership with the University of Canterbury to help the company ensure it stayed competitive in the market, he said.
Arrangements around intellectual property would be determined case by case.
Caringrace Inc is listed as owning a half share in the company on the Companies Office website. They were "private, wealthy individuals" who wanted their details kept confidential, Claridge said.
Claridge has a food science qualification from Canterbury University but has years of experience in advertising and marketing, while his father Richard is an obstetrician and gynaecologist now practising in Wellington.
The Claridge family had set up a food exporting business in the 1980s that they subsequently sold.
Chris Claridge decided to return to the food export industry after the February 2011 earthquake.
"My father has delivered thousands of Christchurch babies ... we are quite passionate about mother-and- baby nutrition."
That had given the family a "natural affinity" with neonate and maternal care so they decided to focus on infant formula.
They noticed there were no New Zealand brands on shelves here, so they developed the product and the branding and packaging, with help from family and consultants.
- © Fairfax NZ News