In a scenario outlined by the rising importance of nutrition in preventing and reducing maternal and child mortality, there has been a significant proliferation of stringent regulations to promote the intake of nutritionally adequate and safe complementary baby foods. According to WHO (World Health Organization), undernutrition results in more than 2.7 million child deaths or 45% of all child deaths per year. It has also been estimated that the first month is the most vulnerable period for the survival of the child, as over 2.4 million newborns succumbed to death in 2020.
Backed by the increasing regulatory intervention and the thriving demand for proper infant nutrition, the baby food industry is expected to record remarkable traction in the near future. Adequate nutrition during early childhood and infancy is not only essential for ensuring the full potential health, growth, and development of children, but also assists in alleviating the risk of illness. Childhood obesity due to inappropriate nutrition is an increasing public health problem across several countries. Furthermore, early nutritional deficits are linked to long-term impairment in health and growth.
As a result of these shortcomings, numerous baby food manufacturers are vigilantly focusing on enhancing the quality of their raw materials as well as processing and quality parameters. This can be mainly accredited to increasing attention to nutritious products as they are guided by stringent legislation and regulations in all countries to alleviate food safety concerns.
Innovations, led by several key business players are hence playing a prominent role in the development of the baby food industry for increased customer base and scaled revenue sales. Here is a list of some of the recent developments.
In July 2022, Danone introduced its new dairy & plant blend baby formula for matching the parental demands for feeding options that are suitable for flexitarian, vegetarian, and plant-based diets, while adhering to baby-specific nutritional requirements.
Nestlé-owned Gerber, in April 2022, launched Plant-tastic, its new line of carbon-neutral, plant-protein baby food made from beans, like chickpeas, black and navy beans as well as lentils. This newly unveiled product features a selection of organic pouches, snacks and meals that are created using nutrient-dense and plant-based ingredients.
In April 2021, Heinz, primarily known for its top-quality ketchup and baked beans, forayed into the plant-based baby market by rolling out three new products under its Heinz for Baby Pulses range. These baby food items are found ideal for parents raising vegan children and inclined toward introducing more savory plant-based foods into babies’ diets.
According to Global Market Insights Inc., the baby food market size will exceed $140.96 billion in annual revenue by 2030, powered by the surge in R&D activities for the developments in new food products.
Rising Number of Capacity Expansion Ventures to Augment Baby Formula Demand
Though breast milk is considered the best nutritional choice for infants, its preference is hindered due to factors, such as lifestyle, comfort level and specific medical situations. In this regard, the use of baby or infant formula has evolved as a healthy alternative as it provides babies with the nutrients they require to grow and thrive while comprising additional nutritive components. For instance, in November 2020, Abbott launched Similac Pro-Advance, its first infant formula across Canada with 2'-Fucosyllactose Oligosaccharide, an ingredient identical to immune components found in breast milk.
Additionally, baby formula acts as a complete substitute for human milk for meeting the full nutritional needs of babies aged under 12 months and is ideal for bottle-feeding. In light of its surging popularity, several key manufacturers are ramping up their production capacities to meet the rising consumer needs. To illustrate, in May 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed Bubs Australia Ltd.’s plans of shipping more than 1.25 million cans of its baby formula to the U.S. to ease the nationwide shortage.
What Does the Future Hold For the Baby Food Market?
In the forthcoming years, the demand for baby food is predicted to gain immense traction with increasing presence across retail and online distribution channels along with the surge in the number of toddler food brands. The rising influx of innovative packaging solutions is also likely to stir the industry dynamics. Stating an example, in September 2021, HiPP, a well-known organic-biological raw materials processor, introduced a new infant formula packaging that features a customized version of Aptar Food + Beverage’s Neo closure.
The rising focus on creating more climate-friendly products is paving way for several carbon-neutral plant-based toddler and infant foods. The increasing instances of research activities and the subsequent introduction of new products will also drive the growth of the baby food market. To cite an instance, Heinz, in May 2021, rolled out a plant-based baby food range in the U.K. following market research results that showed the parent's disapproval of the options available.
By Shreya Bhute