Vitaflo, which was acquired for an undisclosed sum, makes products for infants, children and adults with genetic disorders that affect how food is processed by the body.
“This sector is growing rapidly as improved diagnosis and screening enable increasing numbers of cases to be detected, and new advances in science demonstrate the benefits of specialised nutrition as an integral part of clinical management,” said Nestle in a statement.
Liverpool-based Vitaflo has grown by around 30 per cent over the last three years, and currently has annual sales of around €29m.
The firm, which supplies global markets with clinical nutrition products, says it has “several exciting and innovative projects underway in various countries”.
Metabolic disorders that it attempts to target via nutrition include phenylketonuria (PKU), maple syrup urine disease (MSUD) and homocystinuria (HCU).
“Inborn errors of metabolism are infrequent at an estimated 1 in 2,500-50,000 births depending on the disorder but persist from birth to adulthood. They constitute a significant proportion of genetic disorders detected in newborn babies,” says Nestle.
Vitaflo would not comment on the acquisition or its product portfolio. However, the firm’s website states that the company has developed “a new generation of protein substitutes for disorders of amino acid metabolism.”
“These products are quick, convenient and easier to use than the older preparations currently available. Taken as a concentrated low volume drink they offer a more socially acceptable means of dietary management,” it says.
Beyond metabolic disorders, a second area of focus for Vitaflo is disease related malnutrition. Its products in this sector are said to “conveniently add energy and protein to foods.”
Vitaflo will be incorporated into Nestle’s Healthcare Nutrition division, where it will operate as a stand-alone business. Nestle Healthcare Nutrition, which is part of Nestle Nutrition, provides products to address “specific illnesses, disease states or the special challenges of different life stages”.
According to Richard Laube, CEO of Nestlé Nutrition, the acquisition "will help us to expand our innovation potential in the area of high quality products for infants, children and adults with very specific nutritional needs."
Paul Bulcke, CEO of Nestlé added that the acquisition “is an excellent strategic fit, reinforcing our position in a rapidly growing segment of specialised nutrition”.
Another major acquisition in Nestle’s Nutrition division occurred in 2007, when the firm acquired Novartis medical Nutrition. Last year, Nestle Nutrition had sales of CHF 10bn (€7.3bn), with organic growth of 2.8 per cent.