Dutch Medical Food enters global medical foods category with innovative, high quality products

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

A selection of Dutch Medical Food's brands. Image: www.dutchmedicalfood.com/
A selection of Dutch Medical Food's brands. Image: www.dutchmedicalfood.com/

Related tags Medical foods enteral nutrition

The new company, which is led by Dr Rolf Smeets (a former executive of Danone’s medical food division) and Dr Guru Ramanathan (former Chief Innovation Officer for GNC), aims to make its innovative products accessible in underserved markets.

The market size for medical foods is about $20 billion globally, Dr Smeets told NutraIngredients-USA, and the enteral nutrition category is dominated by players such as Nutricia, Nestlé, Abbott (the market leader in the US), and Fresenius. (The parenteral nutrition category, which is closer to the drug model, is dominated by Baxter and B Braun.)

Under the potent leadership of Drs Smeets and Ramanathan, who will drive innovation and product development, Dutch Medical Food​ is aiming to disrupt the category, both in terms of product and market diversification, as well as making the high-quality products accessible to a broader segment of the market.

Growth category

Medical Foods are defined in the US as, “a food which is formulated to be consumed or administered enterally under the supervision of a physician and which is intended for the specific dietary management of a disease or condition for which distinctive nutritional requirements, based on recognized scientific principles, are established by medical evaluation.”

The category is known as “Foods for Special Medical Purposes” in Europe.

Demand for these products is on the rise, with a CAGR of 6.3% cited in a report by Grand View Research published in February 2020. This is due to factors like growing geriatric populations, increased incidences of chronic (and acute) diseases such as sarcopenia, diabetes and cancer, and a greater awareness regarding clinical nutrition among patients and healthcare professionals. A consumer shift toward adopting healthy alternatives in their daily routines due to the increasing cost of medical services has also driven the demand for medical foods in the market.

Dutch Medical Food will focus on universal accessibility, and will make its medical foods innovations available through physicians and over-the-counter. The company will manufacture its products in FDA, EC and TGA compliant facilities, they added.

“Despite the strong scientific evidence that medical foods play a crucial role in the dietary management of patients, there are many individuals globally that simply can’t afford these products,”​ said Dr Smeets. “We believe that every individual should have access to high quality health care.”


The company is launching with a product portfolio that specializes in meeting the nutritional needs of pediatric and adult patients focusing on malnutrition, critical care and surgery, drug-resistance epilepsy, cancer, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders and digestive impairment, cardiac disease, COPD, sarcopenia, liver diseases, impaired growth in infancy and cystic fibrosis. 

“In addition to the conventional Medical Food Products we are looking into developing innovative solutions for some of the more rare diseases with lower prevalence rates e.g. Prader-Willi Syndrome,” ​Dr Smeets told us.

“We’re excited to design and develop medical foods products based on the famed Dutch quality heritage that many patients around the world have come to rely upon,” ​added Dr Ramanathan.  “We believe that quality is a birthright of our patients, so we don’t necessarily view it as a competitive advantage. Our goal is to design, develop and deliver products that meet the needs of different types of patients or diseases for the diverse geographies where they live.”


Dutch Medical Foods are targeting markets/ countries that have typically not been served well, such as Ecuador, Bolivia, and Uruguay. The company has already partnered with Gencor for distribution in Vietnam and Indonesia, for example.

While they will focus on specific countries, the products and services will be distributed globally through its headquarters in the Netherlands and subsidiaries in the US, India, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Australia.

“The need for medical foods exists in all such markets but they are typically serviced by sub-distributors or secondary or tertiary distributors,”​ Dr Ramanathan told NutraIngredients-USA. The regulations in these countries, to the extent that have been defined, tend to follow EU and/or US regulations, he added.

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