The product had been already approved for use in flavored milk drinks for children aged three and above, but Thai regulators have now also given the green light for its use in infant and follow-up formula. This makes FrieslandCampina the only provider of both human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) and galacto-oligosaccharide (GOS) ingredients in the country, the company claims.
2’-fucosyllactose (2’-FL), a type of HMO, has been widely studied and is considered safe for infant nutrition. It is the most abundantly produced HMO, with an average of 2.4g per 1L of milk1, but can also be produced through chemical synthesis for use in supplements or infant formula. Research has shown 2’-FL promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut and boasts anti-inflammatory properties.
FrieslandCampina Ingredients says this regulatory approval could create opportunities for new formulations that incorporate both HMOs and GOS ingredients. In Thailand, around 15% of new infant milk formula product launches in 2023 had been supplemented with 2’-FL, suggesting a significant market potential.
Sophie Nicolas, global marketing lead, early life nutrition at FrieslandCampina Ingredients said the company had developed concept applications for RTD beverages for young children when the ingredient got its previous regulatory nod, but the latest approval means its product can be used in applications across the entire early life nutrition category.
“Science shows that 2’-FL can play a vital role in supporting health in infancy and childhood, thanks in part to its bifidogenic effects,” Nicolas explained. “But this is just one example of the benefits offered by 2’-FL and oligosaccharides more widely.
“We believe including other prebiotic ingredients alongside 2’-FL could offer even more benefits by providing more diverse oligosaccharides structures in recipes.”
Dairy majors and the race for HMO dominance
Elsewhere in Asia-Pacific, dsm-firmenich recently secured regulatory approval for four HMO ingredients, for use as nutritive substances in infant formula products in Australia and New Zealand. The company said it was the first firm to have applied and obtained approval for the four HMOs – 2’-FL/DFL, LNT, 6’-SL, and 3’-SL - in the region. In addition, dsm-firmenich obtained approvals for 2’-FL and LNT ingredients in China, for use in early life nutrition products.
In late 2023, Nestlé launched its first product with HMOs in China. The product, an Illuma-braded growing-up milk, combines lipids and proteins with HMOs to offer gut and cognitive health benefits.
Local dairy major Kirin also opened its first HMOs production plant in 2022 in Thailand, where it is producing three HMOs – 2’-FL, 3’-SL and 6’-SL.
Market analysts are also tipping the HMOs market to grow at a fast pace. According to Polaris Market Research, the HMO market will grow at CAGR of 22.8% and is projected to reach a valuation of $1.7bn by 2023, from $231.8m in 2022.
Castanys-Muñoz E, et al. Nutr Rev. 2013;71(12):773-789.