In Japan, a baby’s nutrition comes mainly from breast milk. Apart from breast milk, there’s also “Formula Milk Powder”. In other countries, there is liquid milk which can be fed to the baby straight from the packet. Liquid milk came to prominence in Japan during the Tohuku Earthquake, since then, demand for liquid milk has grown astonishingly since this disastrous event.
There is a difference between liquid milk sold in Japan and other countries. In this article we’ll cover the present situation regarding nutrition from packaged milk in countries like Sweden, Russia, China, USA and Brazil and compare it to the products we currently have in Japan.
Breastfeeding is encouraged in Sweden, according to Socialstyrelsen (National Health and Welfare Commission of Swenden). Statistics released in 2015 suggested, 74% of mothers breastfeed their babies for up to 4 months and 63% of mothers breastfeed their baby for up to 7 months long.
Therefore the number of babies that consumed packaged milk was around 30%.
The major milk manufacturers in Sweden are Nestle, Semper (an established Swedish manufacturer) and Hipp (German manufacturer that specialises in organic raw material). The milk products for babies are segregated by their forms, powder or liquid as well as allergies if any.
In the past, there was suspicion around vegetable oils and fats because of carcinogens found in them. Manufacturers immediately responded to this worry by switching to higher quality raw materials. Sweden and the EU set some very stringent rules with regards to milk powder production.
Currently the number of mothers who breastfeed has reduced because the quality of milk powder has become better. In fact, it contains the same nutritional value as breast milk. Some organizations have since proposed that women should use milk powders without any guilt.
According to popular Russian media publication Demoscope Weekly, Russia’s milk powder utilization was 47%. Data from public agencies were not found.
It is rather common to hire babysitters in Russia and women get back to work pretty quickly after childbirth. This figure is higher than Japan.
European manufacturers have a strong foothold in the Russian milk powder market. Nestle’s NAN and Nutrilon from Netherlands are quite popular.
Liquid milk is also sold, but only two manufacturers produce it and they are available only in large baby shops or on the internet.
On the whole, when it comes to milk, the quality of domestic milk is not up to the standards of other countries. Russia is largely dependent on imports. Since winters are long and cold in Russia, use of hot water and powdered milk is common. There is little demand for liquid milk because it becomes frozen during transportion.
According to China Industry Relations Network, since maternity leave is shorter in China, the use of milk powder is very high, close to 80% in urban areas!
In 2008, milk was contaminated with melamine and the trust for domestic products plummeted, resulting in the rise in popularity for overseas products and it has since remained this way.
According to China’s Industrial Relations Network, Aptamil, a German based manufacturer, has the highest market share at 12% with Nutrilon coming in at second place with a 6% market share.
Two domestic brands are “Shell Sheriff” and “Yori”
From January 2018, regulations concerning powdered milk were established, and companies that did not acquire the registration certificate were prohibited from producing, selling and importing powdered milk. Although more than 2000 brands have sold milk powder, so far, this regulation is expected to decrease the number of licenced brands to about 500-600 from this year onwards.
In China, powdered milk made from “sheep milk” is sold (In the picture above).
The content of protein (casein etc.) contained in cow’s milk is considered to be the cause of newborn infant gastrointestinal allergies.
According to baby food manufacturer, Pigeon, the utilization rate for powdered milk is 47% in the States. In addition to that, people also buy liquid milk, but recently, the breastfeeding movement has gained momentum and a lot more women are breastfeeding their babies.
The type of milk in the United States is mainly divided into the following three types:
1) Regular milk powder that dissolves in hot water.
2) Liquid milk that can be consumed straight from the package.
3) Soluble milk with reduced concentration.
Manufacturers of powdered milk and liquid milk are “Similac” and “Enfamil” respectively. Milk of all types are sold and consumers can buy a variety of milk based on certain characteristics like milk for weak stomachs, allergies and more.
Liquid milk (The image below) is convenient and hygienic, but the price is more expensive. It is about a dollar per bottle for a newborn baby and about 2 dollars for a bottle containing 237 ml of milk that is suitable for a 1 year old. Ultimately, it ends up costing twice the cost for milk powder.
However, while liquid milk is expensive, we often see people using it when going out. Even babies that are just a few weeks old go outdoors with parents in the US, so people like the convenience of opening and drinking milk straight from the bottle.
In Brazil, breastfeeding is common up to two years. Since maternity leave is only six months, parents switch to milk powder when they return to work. Public data was not available, but according to media publication Lunetas, the percentage of babies that were fed breast milk was 38.6%; therefore only 62% were consuming milk powder.
Similar to Japan, there is no “liquid” milk in Brazil. Powdered milk is sold and used widely. Nestle’s “NAN” and “NESTGENO” are top brands. Danone’s “Aptamil” and “ Milnutri “ enjoy high market shares as well. These companies advertise their milk products as similar to breast milk. Apart from that, they also sell lactose free milk and soy based milk for babies that have allergies.
In addition to liquid products, many companies also serve dietary supplements based on rice flour. While these are convenient, they need to be consumed in moderation, otherwise babies can get overweight.
In Brazil, there is a custom where kids drink from the milk bottle even beyond infancy. It’s therefore not uncommon to see 4 to 5 year olds still drinking from the bottle.
The percentage of powdered milk usage is directly correlated to the age of the baby. According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, powdered milk is given to about 3.5% of newborn babies. About 40% of babies that are 6 months old are given powdered milk. That number increases to 60% when the babies are older than 6 months.
While breastfeeding is promoted, only few people choose to breastfeed.
There are about five domestic manufacturers who produce milk powder. “Wakodo” is a domestic milk powder producer that is new to the market. “Morinaga” and “ Meg Snow” are dairy makers. “Meiji” and “Glico”, popular for sweets, have also entered the market.
There are different types of milk powder that is produced based on taste and nutrients. It is better to choose milk powder after thorough research.
As stated in the beginning, in Japan, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is implementing the Food Hygiene Law for domestic manufacturing and the law on manufacturing related standards.
This summer, ministerial ordinance will be revised and domestic manufacturing of liquid milk will be possible. However, it seems it will take two years to set up production facilities and ultimately reach the hands of the consumer.
With milk powder, preparation is difficult on the go. Liquid milk does not have to be prepared and can be stored at normal temperature. It will be a great service for mothers with their burdens reduced. Expectations for liquid milk is on the rise, but this expectation has to be met with sales numbers for this to become the norm.