NZMP, Fonterra’s dairy ingredient business, has recently set up a medical nutrition and healthy ageing division to develop science-based solutions that help to treat people who are suffering malnutrition, cancer and other diseases, as well as to help people age in good health.
Why have you taken this approach?
There is a rising need for medical and ageing nutrition solutions as populations live longer and lifestyle associated diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, are more prevalent. Medical nutrition plays a vital role in the treatment of those who are malnourished or ill. Many medical conditions can be better managed when a patient is receiving specialised nutrition suited to their specific needs.
Through scientific research and development, the Medical Nutrition team aims to pioneer nutritional solutions that help people to live longer and healthier lives.
Why are you focusing on malnutrition?
Malnutrition is not a third-world problem only, it is a sad fact of life for many in our communities. Sometimes the elderly or those who are unwell don’t get proper nutrition because they have lost their appetite or are not eating a nutritious diet. Hospital patients may be affected because they can have difficulty swallowing or need to be fed through tubes. In such cases, we can deliver high-quality nutrition with products such as protein powders mixed into soups or drinks or compact yoghurts that people can swallow easily.
What are the other two major ways you can make a difference?
Helping people face treatment for cancer is very important. We can make a difference to the quality of people’s lives at these difficult times by developing products to help them stay strong for chemotherapy.
The third area is mobility. A lack of mobility can significantly affect quality of life and protein is key to retaining and building muscle, especially as we age. Maintaining muscle mass is particularly important for bed-bound patients as people lose approximately 1kg of muscle for every week they are in hospital.
What about people who want to stay active for longer?
Older people are challenging the ageing process. They want to extend middle age and are proactively seeking products that improve their wellbeing, such as food and drinks fortified with extra nutrients to address specific health needs and help them stay stronger for longer.
What is your approach to developing new nutritional solutions?
We will accelerate the cutting-edge R&D and clinical research work by our Fonterra scientists and form partnerships with external innovation partners to develop highly specialised ingredients for nutrition products.
Through years of expertise and research, we have already developed a range of protein ingredients that help people remain healthy and active through their adult lives, and our focused approach on medical nutrition will accelerate the development of these types of products.