September 11, 2018 / 1:09 PM / 2 months ago

Nestle to remove stabilizers from major milk brands in Brazil

FILE PHOTO: The Nestle logo is seen during the opening of the 151st Annual General Meeting of Nestle in Lausanne, Switzerland April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy/File Photo

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Nestle SA is eliminating stabilizers from two of its major milk brands in Brazil, an executive told Reuters, as the world’s largest food company makes a global push to capture growing consumer interest in natural, healthy and organic products.

In an interview on Monday afternoon, Fabiana Fairbanks, beverages business executive officer for Nestle Brazil, said the firm’s Ninho and Molico brands, a milk for children and a skimmed milk, respectively, will be sold without preservatives starting this month.

With the move, which required an investment of 140 million reais ($34.3 million), Nestle’s two “ultra-high temperature” milks in Brazil, which can be stored for prolonged periods of time at room temperature, have no stabilizers. The two brands make up about 10 percent of the 2 billion liters of milk Nestle sells in Brazil every year.

Brazil is part of a larger natural-products push by the Swiss-based company throughout the Americas. In February, Nestle bought a majority stake in Terrafertil, an Ecuadorian company selling natural and organic plant-based foods. In the second half of 2017, the company announced deals for Sweet Earth vegetarian foods, Blue Bottle coffee, and Chameleon Cold-Brew Coffee.

While Brazil is still behind developed countries in terms of offerings considered more natural than traditional products, Fairbanks said the nation was quickly catching up, and Nestle’s Brazil unit was continually evaluating other options in the segment.

“In my opinion, Brazil is evolving very quickly in this area,” she said. “You see retailers themselves setting aside areas of stores just for natural products.”

Earlier this year, Nestle launched its first organic-food products in Brazil and opened a new quality assurance lab in Brazil as part of a larger natural products push.

($1 = 4.08 reais)

Reporting by Gram Slattery in Sao Paulo; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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