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“Domestic Infant Formula Production is a Matter of National Importance”
A senator, a nutritionist, the head of the National Parents Committee, and a top manager of Zamwell portfolio company speak out on Russia’s domestic infant formula production.
On November 28, a press conference on the subject of “Import Substitution for Infants” was held at the National News Service Press Center.
During the event, representatives of the Russian Parliament, the Federal Nutrition Center, the National Parents’ Committee and a major Russian breast milk substitute producer discussed incentives to develop baby food production in Russia and answered questions from journalists.
Elena Zlenko, a Senator and member of the Federation Council Committee on Food and Agricultural Policies and Environmental Management, noted that the Committee had repeatedly raised the issue of the need to develop Russian infant milk formula production. In her view, this product’s import substitution must not be delayed, owing to the threats of sanctions against Russia, among other issues.
“Today sanctions are applied to certain product types, such as high-tech devices, but tomorrow they might affect infant formulas – there are no limits. This is a matter of national food security. Besides, children and everything related to their health and safety are a political priority,” said the Senator.
Ekaterina Pyryeva, Head of the Age-Specific Nutritional Science Laboratory at the Scientific Research Institute of Nutrition, agreed with Elena Zlenko saying that “child nutrition is a national security priority for any civilized country”.
Answering questions from journalists, she said that all baby products sold on the Russian market, including breast milk substitutes for healthy and sick infants, are thoroughly tested by expert organizations in Russia and abroad. Imported and domestic foods for babies are equally safe today.
She added that “the perception of a product varies from child to child, and infants give preference to food regardless of how expensive it is”. She also noted that the ingredients of Russian milk formulas are as good as those of foreign products.
Ekaterina Pyryeva also noted that the more the Russian baby food production develops, the more advances will be made in scientific research by the Scientific Research Institute of Nutrition, making breast milk substitutes an even better analog to the real breast milk.
Alexey Lysyakov, Chairman of the Board of Directors, JSC Infaprim, thanked the Russian Government and the Federation Council for paying particular attention to the development of domestic production of infant formulas.
He pointed out that neither the upper house of parliament’s appeal to the Government nor any other instruments called for immediate introduction of quotas for infant formula imports. “This is about giving a boost to domestic production and incentifying transnational producers to build facilities inside Russia,” said Alexey Lysyakov. Mr. Lysyakov believes that localization of production will both support research to improve breast milk substitutes and create demand for Russian-produced ingredients.
Answering the question “What formulas are parents choosing now: imported or domestic?” Irina Volynets, Head of the National Parents’ Committee, said that the parents’ main priority is to find a product that suits their baby. In her view, it is crucial that baby foods meet all applicable standards and can be bought at an affordable price.
Ms. Volynets also expressed support for the Infaprim-geared initiative to link federal subsidies to multiple-child families with their need for breast milk substitutes.
The urgency of localizing infant formula production in Russia was highlighted by First Deputy Prime Minister Alexey Gordeyev at a Government meeting on November 8. He instructed a working group led by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Oksana Lut, to prepare a list of appropriate steps.
Infaprim is a major Russian producer of infant milk formulas and specialized food products for adults and children with a full technological cycle. The company became a part of Zamwell group in 2016.