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In Japan, Pigeon's quest for the perfect nipple for baby's bottle

Published on May 27, 2014 6:20 AM
A Pigeon Corp baby bottle is pictured at the company's R&D centre in Tsukubamirai, Ibaraki prefecture April 4, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (REUTERS) - In a quiet side-room at Pigeon Corp's spacious R&D facility north of Tokyo, researchers are on a high-tech quest - to perfect a baby's bottle teat that replicates a breastfeeding mother's nipple.

Pigeon, founded almost 60 years ago, sells about 100 million bottle teats a year and has a more than 80 percent share of the Japanese market. As the country's birth rate declines, the company has moved overseas and ex-Japan sales will this year for the first time account for more than half its total revenue.

Its main target market is China, where parents aspire to quality Japanese bottles to feed their babies. Pigeon, which has a workforce of close to 3,500, hopes to have 50 percent share of the baby bottle teat market in all major international markets by around 2020, according to a note by Shared Research.

At its 15,400 square metre (165,800 sq ft) facility at Tsukubamirai, some of the more than 100 researchers involved in product development place ultrasound devices under suckling babies' chins to monitor how their tongues move.

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