Located in Foshan City in Guangdong Province, the facility will become Heinz’s seventh in the country. The plant will produce a range of baby foods, including infant cereals, snacks, noodles and teething rusks.
Heinz claims the 80,000 square meter surface makes it the largest infant cereal production plant in the world.
Safety & quality to enable a boom
Grace Chen, managing director of Heinz China, said a focus on safety and quality was paramount for the company’s operations in the country and had been a particular consideration in the design of the latest facility.
The plant was built to incorporate stringent quality controls with testing conducted from raw materials through semi-finished to finished product ahead of shipping. In addition, the factory design meant allergens were completely isolated throughout production.
James Roy, associate principle of China Market Research (CMR), said this dedication to safety would resonate strongly with Chinese mothers.
“Mothers in China are so concerned when it comes to feeding their children. Even if it stretches their own budgets, if they can afford food items that are made overseas they will stretch their budget. It really is the first couple of years of the child’s life when they’ll do that,” he told BakeryandSnacks.com.
Roy said Heinz was a recognized and respected international brand in China and domestic production would help attract a sturdy consumer base, particularly because of more attractive price-points.
“There is a large set of consumers who really can’t afford [to buy imported foods], so what they look for is the next best thing – something that has been domestically made by a brand they trust...We can expect a strong reception among mothers who cannot afford imported baby foods.”
Safety woes in China
China’s infant food market has been riddled with safety fears over the past few years; the most memorable incident being the melamine milk contamination scandal in 2008 which killed four children and hospitalized 54,000.
But even Heinz hasn’t escaped food safety issues in China. Just earlier this year, the company recalled four batches of its infant cereal line AD Calcium Hi-Protein due to excess lead levels. The safety breach was discovered following a routine inspection conducted by the Zhejiang Provincial Food and Drug Administration.