Enzymotec, which produces lipid ingredients for products including infant formula, announced this week it plans to bring all its current expertise on breast milk composition under one "umbrella" to create a project it has dubbed the Human Milk Center.
In recent years, Enzymotec has worked with universities and industry stakeholders, including infant formula manufacturers, to explore the composition and benefits of breast milk.
Ingredients developed on the back of these collaborations are already used by some Enzymotec customers.
By centralising its efforts at the Human Milk Center, Enzymotec hopes to gain a better understanding of the effect that diet, health habits and demographic factors can have on composition of breast milk.
"It's all part of the mother's habits, where she lives, and what type of diet she has," Yael Lifshitz, director of infant formula R&D, Enzymotec. "It's all connected."
"We are checking if different populations need different formula."
"It's like engineering a personal medicine," she said.
"Different formula for different niches"
Enzymotec also plans to further examine the compositional differences between the breast milk and infant formula.
"If you look at the ingredients list on a tub of infant formula, it's very short," Ram Shemer, marketing director, Enzymotec, told DairyReporter.com.
"If you look at the components of breast milk, it's a very long list."
"So you see there is a big opportunity to innovate."
Enzymotec currently offers lipid ingredients for infant nutrition products, most notably Infat, which mimics the fat structures and properties of human milk fat.
It hopes findings from the Human Milk Center will lead to the development of "innovative ingredients" and "special new differentiated formulas" that will further bridge the gap between infant formula and breast milk.
"In the end, these insights will lead to the development of new ingredients with new benefits for the baby," said Shemer.
"Then, maybe in future, we will have different formula for different niches."