Dutch dairy marketer Nutricia rolls out Asian assault

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BOMBAY -- Dutch foods and dairy giant Verenigde Bedrijiven Nutricia, which recently entered the Chinese and Malay- ian markets, will soon enter India with plans to initially invest $13.8 million.

The $1.5 billion marketer has gained Indian government approval to open a wholly owned subsidiary producing infant foods and dairy products, besides import- ing from Nutricia operations in overseas markets.

Nutricia's plan also includes buying assets and brands of existing companies, forming local joint ventures, licensing brands to other marketers and technology transfers that bring in royalty fees. It will have to seek additional government permission for joint ventures, however.

To be renamed NUMICO from January, Nutricia currently sells key brands like Chocomel, Frist and Nutroma in markets such as Australia, the West Indies, the former Soviet republics, the Far East, China, Malaysia and its home base of the Netherlands.

A debut in India will not be easy, however. Swiss marketer Nestle's 51% owned Nestle India arm, Britain's Glaxo Wellcome and milk co-operative leader Amul of Anand, Gujarat, have a tight hold on the local infant foods market. And Nutricia's plans to make clarified butter, an age-old Indian favorite, will face tough resistance from local brands like Indana and Milkfood.

Copyright December 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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