Key Interview: EPI Highlight Challenges in Dairy, Eyes Opportunities in Infant Nutrition

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31 Jan 2017 --- EPI Ingredients produces, develops and markets dry dairy ingredients with the milk collected from Laïta’s cooperatives. These high-quality ingredients are designed to provide targeted benefits for various applications within the food industry, such as beverages, bakery and chocolate sectors and to the nutritional market for infants and adults. Thanks to its expertise in dry dairy products, EPI Ingredients can develop customized solutions to better fulfill customer’s needs.

FoodIngredientsFirst caught up with Elisabeth Baillargeat, Key Account Manager for EPI Ingredients who discussed some of the challenges in the current dairy sector. “The dairy market is always fluctuating,” she explained. “Prices changes, customers change and last year was particularly challenging for many dairy companies. There was a big collection of milk in Europe, this year the dairy market has recovered and prices remain quite stable.”

“We are seeing a demand for milk powders, but when we sell milk powder it is less profitable, in comparison to that of infant formula or yogurt powder.” 

“In the dairy sector there are more and more nutrition end products, at EPI we have decided to develop a range of infant products using raw materials and dairy powders for different applications. We are developing in this sector because it is an area where the consumption is rapidly increasing,” she notes. 

According to Baillargeat, the population is increasing all over the world, and there is a big demand for infant formula both in Asia and Africa in particular. “We already produce infant formula so we have great expertise in that area. We have a pharmaceutical approach so we try to have the best products as we can with our new technology, so we will produce a skimmed milk powder for infant formula and also finished products designed for infants.”

“Our main target area is Asia, like every other company, because the development is there,” she says. “We sell a lot of produce in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, but it is in Asia where most development comes from because there are a lot of people. In Africa the demand is also high, but they buy a lot dairy produce from Europe.”

“We are developing in parts of the word there is a lack of milk, such as Africa, where the land is not as fertile, and where people who want to consume liquid milk have to buy milk powders, to constitute the lack of milk,” says Baillargeat. “In these countries they need to buy powdered milk but they have to be specific powders because there are recommendations from manufacturers of UHT equipment, which have to use low spore SMP. There are constraints of spore counts and of course all this produce will be halal and kosher because in Asia and Africa you need to be halal certified.” 

Baillargeat continues, “Our main target is to produce for infant formula, and we also produce other ingredients such as yogurt powders, which are also important to the business. We are already supplying our customers with yogurt powders with the requirements of infant specification for food,” she claims, “Not everyone can produce according to infant requirements and that makes the difference against our competitors.”

“We believe that the best way to make our business successful in the future is to create products dedicated to the infant sector. They are much more profitable and that is why we have developed our Demineralized Whey 90, our yogurt powder, skimmed milk powder and infant formula.”

EPI Ingredients are currently working on producing a standard skimmed milk powder and a whey powder. They produce 100,000 tons of ingredients, including skimmed powder, for the nutrition, bakery, and chocolate sector, as well as for beverages.

“The new ingredients that we are working on, such as the new skimmed milk powder and D90 infant grade, is the area in which we see most potential,” claims Baillargeat. “D90 is already on the market and our infant formula and skimmed milk powder should be ready in the second half of this year.” 

“The infant formula took eighteen months to develop. We also studied the demand of the customers meaning we can develop according to the specific requirements with an end product that is exclusive to them and tailor made to suit their exact requirements.” 

Baillargeat concludes, “Everyone is investing in infant nutrition and we are quite confident, with this being our main area of development and most progress and profits can be made in infant and yogurt powders. We are the only company who produce for infant applications using the yogurt powder - that’s our main differentiator and something we are investing in heavily for the future of the business.” 

by Elizabeth Kenward

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