Danone is expanding a factory in Poland to manufacture “medical nutrition” products.

Alongside baby food, yogurt and bottled water, the French giant makes foods for patients with specific nutritional needs.

The company is spending €50m ($53.6m) to add a production line at its plant in Opole in south-west Poland.

Danone already manufactures infant-formula and baby food at the factory. The investment will mean the plant also makes enteral nutrition products, designed for patients dependent on feeding tubes as they cannot swallow or drink normally.

The Activia yogurt owner said an ageing population and the increasing rate of chronic diseases mean more people will require “medical nutrition” at some stage of their lives. Cancer and strokes can lead to malnutrition of patients, Danone said, adding – without citing the data source – that only one in three patients who could benefit from the products currently receive them.

“The line expansion we’re making into the Opole plant will accelerate our innovation within adult medical nutrition,” Danone CEO Antoine de Saint-Affrique said. “The investment will result in more agility in our supply chain, via our existing factories, meaning we can serve more patients, better, locally, while also delivering on our mission to bring health through food to as many people as possible.”

Just Food has asked when the line will be up and running and which geographic markets it will supply.

Danone’s medical nutrition business is part of its wider “specialised nutrition” division, which also includes products for infants like baby food and formula. The company says medical nutrition products account for approximately 40% of the division’s sales.

Overall, the business unit accounts for 30% of Danone’s total revenues. It grew its revenues by 10% on a like-for-like basis in 2022.

In the first half of 2023, Danone’s specialised-nutrition sales were €4.25bn ($4.56bn), up 5.5% year on year, or by 8.3% on a like-for-like basis. Danone said the division’s “volume/mix” increased 1.7%.

Earlier this week, Unilever announced it is investing in its factory in the Polish city of Poznań to increase the output of its ramen noodles brands.