Nestle launches drive for health nutrition business

Nestle laid out on Monday a strategy of health focused subsidiaries to exploit growing business opportunities for foods which help with ageing and conditions such as heart trouble.

Nestle Health Science and the Nestle Institute of Health Sciences would "pioneer a new industry between food and pharma," the Swiss food giant said in a statement.

The new company will incorporate Nestle's existing HealthCare Nutrition business, which had a turnover of 1.6 billion Swiss francs (1.2 billion euros/ 1.6 billion dollars) in 2009.

The group said it would invest hundreds of millions of Swiss francs over the next decade to build the biomedical health sciences research institute at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne.

"The combination of health economics, changing demographics and advances in health science show that our existing health care systems, which focus on treating sick people, are not sustainable and need redesigning," said Nestle chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe.

Chief executive Paul Bulcke said the group wanted to "seize this promising business opportunity."

The multinational is aiming to use the new outfits to develop "personalised health science nutrition to prevent and treat health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease, which are placing an unsustainable burden on the world's health care systems."

Health claims on food labels or advertising are regulated in several countries such as the United States and in Europe to avoid misleading information.

Brabeck said Nestle was aiming for a leading role in health nutrition, while maintaining "the necessary focus on Nestlé's extremely important food, beverages and nutrition business."

The health institute will be integrated into the group's research and development network and run by the former chief scientific officer of US biotech company ViaCyte, Emmanuel Baetge.

Nestle bolstered its health business in 2006-2007 by buying pharmaceutical giant's Novartis entire medical nutrition business for 2.5 billion dollars and announced a strategic shift to becoming a "nutrition, health and wellness company".