Delicious and nutritious
Kendal Nutricare produces world class health care products, made from locally sourced ingredients, from its factory in the heart of the English Lake District
When FoodChain Magazine last spoke to Ross McMahon, Managing Director of Kendal Nutricare, back in the summer of 2016, the Lake District based pharmaceutical research company, and Britain’s only infant formula manufacturer, was on the cusp of an exciting sales drive. Designed to expose its world class health care products, the range of which extends the entire lifecycle from infant to adult formulas, to ever more consumers, this drive has been nothing short of a whirlwind success.
“During the second half of 2016 we went into full-on sales mode, as it were, and this has gained considerable momentum in 2017, as we have introduced a full complement of products, including infant milks, infant cereals and organic variants,” Ross begins. “A year ago, we were selling our products regionally in the North West of England, as well as some niche items in select stores in London, Manchester and Liverpool, and since then this has expanded to the point where, as of the beginning of June 2017, we are now supplying our products to 150 branches of Morrisons across the country.
“At the same time, we are also extending our reach into more foreign markets, including the United States, Canada, Australia and France. In China, we have expanded our product’s presence into more than 8000 mother and baby stores, giving us exposure in 33 of the country’s Provinces, while 2016 also saw us enter into North Africa for the first time, where we are now one of the top three brands supplying pharmacies in the region.”
In an industry sector where the guaranteed quality of the finished product is fundamental, there is an inherent respect and confidence attached to products created in the UK to British Retail Consortium (BRC) standards. Kendal Nutricare’s factory, located in the Cumbrian town of the same name, or the ‘Centre of Nutrition’ as it is known, was first built in 1962. Spanning more than 14 acres and home to over 120 staff, many of whom have 20 years’ service or more, the factory was recently audited and successfully retained its BRC Grade AA status.
“Optimum quality in every product we make is something we are constantly delivering every single day and this is what gives our customers that extra degree of confidence,” Ross continues. “We make every effort to communicate openly with the public about how we source local raw materials, for example the full cream milk we use comes from the Lake District, which is the second biggest milk pool in the UK. Inside the full cream are fatty acids, such as palmitic acid, that bind with the calcium to make it more readily bioavailable to the infant. We believe local provenance will become an increasing area of interest to consumers who can see first-hand how we differ from the big multinationals who are all importing their finished product into the UK from overseas. Only Kendal Nutricare sources its ingredients and manufactures all of its products here on this island.”
The unquestioned quality of the company’s products, and its general approach to business, continues to be recognised in the form of various industry awards, including being named as ‘UK Business of the Year 2017’, and ‘Exporter of the Year’, at the 2017 Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and Worldpay UK Business Awards. “Awards such as these are really all about recognising the efforts and dedication of our employees,” Ross enthuses. “We also hope that it gives the community in which we work and exist a sense of pride, one that they also get from seeing the Kendal name on all the products we create, which they will now be able to find in an increasing number of locations across the country.”
Ross and his team’s passion for what they do shows no signs of wilting, with he and his colleagues continuing to travel frequently, attending exhibitions and conferences, visiting supermarkets and looking at their ranges of products, and going abroad in order to identify new trends and markets. Ross is also always looking at how to better improve consumer health by manufacturing products using natural raw materials combined with essential nutrients.
“The issue of obesity is a very hot topic at present,” Ross explains. “Much like how trans fats were found to be harmful, and subsequently targeted for reduction in products, it has been noted how some of the components in vegetable oils and palm oil have similar negative qualities. Bearing this in mind, we must ask why such ingredients continue to be used in infant formulas and could this use actually be contributing to later life obesity? If these oils are suspected of playing a role then surely, regardless of the cost savings their inclusion creates, we need to make every effort as an industry to reduce their use.”
The second half of 2017 is already proving to be an exciting time for Kendal Nutricare. It officially launches its Kendalife range of fortified fruit smoothies at the CBME trade show in July in Shanghai, the largest fair for baby, children and maternity products. At the same event the company will also be introducing its international customers to its organic version of Kendamil and a new range of export Kendamil cereals in 300g tins. Meanwhile, back in the UK, August will see its products become available nationwide via another of the UK’s largest supermarket chains.
“Over the next 12 months you are going to see Kendal Nutricare products becoming more widely available in the UK, particularly as our on-the-shelf presence in major retailers increases,” Ross states. “At the same time, we will look to expand strongly in global markets like Africa and the Middle East, while continuing to push on into China at a time when quality standards are rising significantly. We still have huge capacity available to us in Kendal and we are certain that we can utilise this to increase our employee numbers, improve efficiencies, and invest further into research and development. The latter will allow us to look at how we can move into the creation of clinical products for the healthcare sector, which is an area that I think will be very exciting for us as we look to the future.”