NEW YORK (AP) -- Abbott Laboratories said Wednesday it has opened a $300 million manufacturing facility in Singapore to meet growing demand in Asia for its pediatric nutrition products, including Similac infant formula and PediaSure snacks.
Abbott said the plant, which marks its single largest investment in Asia, will serve up to 1 million infants and children in the region each year. The drug and health care products maker also plans to open a nutrition science research center in Singapore, to conduct clinical trials and develop food products tailored to Asian dietary needs.
These mark Abbott's latest investments in Singapore -- last month it opened a new pharmaceutical R&D facility there, its first such center in Southeast Asia.
"These new facilities in Singapore will allow us to get even closer to our customers in both proximity and in understanding the unique dietary needs and preferences of Asian consumers," said Miles D. White, chairman and chief executive of Abbott, in a statement.
The company said the location will allow for faster shipments to retail and health care outlets in the region, including China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, as well as the Middle East. The plant employs about 300 people, 50 of whom are solely devoted to quality control.
Abbott, which makes a wide range of products including treatments for Crohn's disease, HIV infection and epilepsy, currently operates 11 nutrition manufacturing facilities around the world. U.S. pediatric nutritionals generated $1.27 billion in sales in 2008, an increase of 3 percent year-over-year. But abroad, sales of its infant and child nutrition products jumped 26 percent to $1.37 billion.
The company has expanded its presence in Singapore over the past few years with the launch of such products as Humira, a rheumatoid arthritis treatment, and the Xience V drug-coated cardiac stent. Singapore is also home to the regional headquarters for several Abbott businesses, including nutrition, pharmaceuticals and diagnostics.