Local brand enters formula milk market

Mr Alvin Tan (left) and Mr Eric Chua conceived the idea of having a locally made range of infant milk powder two years ago, after finding a lack of affordable options here.
Mr Alvin Tan (left) and Mr Eric Chua conceived the idea of having a locally made range of infant milk powder two years ago, after finding a lack of affordable options here.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Einmilk costs up to $39 for an 800g tin, and makes entry amid public unhappiness over high prices here

A made-in-Singapore range of infant milk powder, developed as an affordable alternative to products on shelves here, was launched yesterday amid public unhappiness over high prices.

Einmilk, owned by AE Solution and manufactured here by SMC Nutrition with milk sourced from New Zealand, enters as the only local brand on the market.

It comes in three formulations ranging in price from $33 to $39 for an 800g tin, while a lactose-free version costs $25 for 400g.

This makes the newcomer cheaper than most existing options. The price of infant milk formula here has more than doubled over the last decade to $56.06 on average for a 900g tin, leading the Government to announce measures earlier this month to curb the increases.

But Einmilk could also attract some barbs for its name, which was inspired by physicist Albert Einstein, "as all parents want their kids to be smart", said Einmilk business director Chan Yong Chye in response to queries from The Straits Times. But he stressed that the brand does not make any claims on the packaging that its formulation can improve IQ.

The authorities have said they want to step up scrutiny of the labelling and advertising of formula milk.

SMC Nutrition, a subsidiary of food manufacturer SMC Food 21, is one of four companies licensed to manufacture infant formula here. The rest are Abbott, Mead Johnson Nutrition and Wyeth Nutritionals.

QUALITY AT AFFORDABLE PRICE

We wanted to provide quality at an affordable price, made in Singapore by Singaporeans for Singaporeans.

MR ERIC CHUA, one of those behind Einmilk

Einmilk formulas are now available at U Stars supermarkets as well as online. There are plans to have them on the shelves of more retailers in the next three to six months.

While convincing consumers to switch brands presents the biggest challenge, parent focus groups suggested that pricing a product under $40 would entice them to make the change, Mr Chan added.

Einmilk was conceived by local businessmen Eric Chua and Alvin Tan two years ago after finding a lack of affordable and locally made milk formulas for sale. Said Mr Chua, 52: "We wanted to provide quality at an affordable price, made in Singapore by Singaporeans for Singaporeans."

In the meantime, supermarket chains have said they are expanding their sourcing to provide more affordable formula options, while both Cold Storage and FairPrice are looking into creating house brands.

MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling, who raised the issue of high formula prices in Parliament on May 8, said the entry of a local company is a welcome move: "This immediate injection of competition is certainly good news for young parents."

The authorities and nutritional experts have said breast milk is best for babies, and there is little difference between formula brands.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2017, with the headline 'Local brand enters formula milk market'. Print Edition | Subscribe