CHINA –  American infant formula giant Abbot Laboratories, is planning to discontinue the production and supply of infant formula in China saying the market is well served by other companies.

This shift is expected to take effect in 2023, with the Illinois-based company reporting that it will refocus on its adult nutrition business instead.

At the beginning of the year, Abbott reported in its results announcement for the previous year, that its international paediatric nutrition sales were impacted unfavourably by the challenging market conditions in China.

Among the other major players in the infant-formula market in China are Nestlé, Bubs Australia and A2 Milk Co., located in New Zealand.

Nestlé was recently reported to be facing similar challenges in the infant nutrition Asian market due to a decline in the countries’ birth rate while Reckitt Benckiser, the company behind the Enfamil brand, also recently quit the market.

“Over the past several years, we have competed fiercely in a rapidly changing market in mainland China, however, the demand for our paediatric nutrition products is changing and we have decided to focus on our growing adult nutrition business.

This decision reflects a changing market for paediatric nutrition products and the market is well served by multiple other companies.” Abbott Laboratories said in a recent statement to Just Foods.

The company will gradually stop producing and selling infant nutrition under the brands Similac, Eleva and PediaSure in China together with the sub-brands of Total Comfort and NeoSure by 2023 according to the website of Abbott’s China-based arm.

No other countries with which Abbott does business will be affected by this decision and their customers will still be able to access Abbott’s infant nutrition products both online and offline, throughout the transition.

According to Abbott’s annual report for the 2021 fiscal year, its largest market was the US followed by Germany then China. They reported a total group sales of US$43.1 billion across all products with china accounting for US$2.3 billion and Germany for US$2.5 billion.

Earlier this year, the company recalled batches of infant formula produced in its US in Michigan plant due to the detection of Salmonella Newport and Cronobacter sakazakii which is rumoured to have killed a baby that consumed the product.

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