Nestle has said it will cut infant formula prices in China in response to an investigation into alleged price-fixing by several foreign companies. China is the world’s largest market for baby formula.
Nestle’s Wyeth Nutrition unit pledged “immediately” to cut prices on some formula products by 6 to 20 percent through 2014 in response to the investigation.
“Wyeth Nutrition has always respected and been willing to abide by China’s laws and regulations and is actively cooperating with the anti-monopoly investigation into the company,” the firm said late Wednesday.
The Swiss firm also said it had improved marketing policies to ensure they were in line with regulations.
State media reported Tuesday that China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) had launched an investigation into five foreign baby formula makers, and one Chinese company, for allegedly manipulating retailers to sell the formula at higher prices, thus violating market competition laws.
According to consumer research group Euromonitor, China is by far the world’s largest market for baby formula.
There has been a huge increase in Chinese demand for foreign milk formula after several scandals left many consumers wary about domestically produced infant formula. In 2004, fake Chinese milk powder caused malnutrition deaths in at least a dozen babies and in 2008, a melamine-tainted milk scandal killed at least six babies and sickened about 300,000 others.
Other foreign companies under investigation include Danone Dumex, Abbott Laboratories, Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. and FrieslandCampina. The Chinese firm under investigation is Guangzhou-based Biostime International Holdings Ltd.
hc/dr (Reuters, AFP, AP)