The facilities in Veghel will boost production by 60 metric tonnes (mt) in 2022, bringing its total capacity to 70 mt per annum, which the firm says makes them the largest lactoferrin producer in the world.
“FrieslandCampina built the world’s first commercial lactoferrin production line and essentially we are replacing that with a much larger and more advanced one,” explains Anne Peter Lindeboom, managing director, early life nutrition segment at FrieslandCampina Ingredients
“Our Veghel facility was recently expanded to accommodate both this line and a larger milk reception unit.
“All equipment on the line will be brand new and state of the art to maximise our quality and efficiency.”
In keeping with the firm’s green commitments, the plant will use 100% green electricity, where the lactoferrin is extracted from milk directly from the firm’s supply chain ensuring its traceability and sustainability credentials.
“Before it is extracted, the only thing that has happened to the milk is decreaming,” adds Lindeboom.
“This means the milk has been minimally processed, which has a marked impact on the quality of the lactoferrin.
“This is important because in every 20,000-litre truck of milk that comes to our factory, there is just one kilogram of lactoferrin.
“We do everything in our power to ensure its quality is maximised. That includes spray drying, rather than freeze drying it. This minimises the drying process, ensuring purity is retained and the ingredient is as easy as possible for infant formulators to use.”
According to FrieslandCampina, the increase in capacity is to meet growing demand in infant nutrition particularly premium infant formula products, which are experiencing faster growth than the mid-range.
Recent figures show global demand for lactoferrin almost doubling between 2014 and 2019 with a large proportion of the rise taking place in China, where mothers are becoming familiar with the ingredient's benefits.
With this familiarity also increasing in western markets, the scene is set for lactoferrin’s use in products such as sports supplements and personal care formulations owing to the ingredient’s anti-viral and anti-bacterial qualities.
Active nutrition role
“We are seeing increased interest in other parts of our business, notably active nutrition,” says Lindeboom.
“As consumers become more health-aware and are researching ingredients that support their individual health goals, lactoferrin’s role in immune health is proving an attraction for an expanding audience.
“Dietary supplements are applications where lactoferrin also fits best. With the increased self-education, the key to driving consumer demand is robust, independent science proving lactoferrin’s value.
“Currently more studies have been carried out in infants than in adults, but the bank of research outside early life nutrition is expanding – and so far, it’s pretty convincing.”
The move follows a series of companies that have increased lactoferrin production to meet demand for early life or infant nutritional products.
In 2015, Glanbia expanded production of the ingredient in response to global customer and market demand growth, as did dairy processing firm Synlait back in 2018.