Infant formula is a market segment that is subject to the highest of nutritional and quality requirements. This article explores the impact baby food has on a child's future health, as well as infant formula opportunities and challenges for manufacturers in Europe and further afield.
THE BABY FORMULA MARKET IN EUROPE AND AROUND THE WORLD
The importance of infant nutrition
Nutrition plays a key role in the health of infants and even foetuses. The first 1,000 days of life span conception to an infant's 24-month birthday, and impact on health for the rest of the child’s life.
According to the WHO, babies should be fed exclusively on breast milk for their first six months for optimal growth, development and health. Nutritionally-appropriate food can then be added in addition to breastfeeding if needed for a further two years.
Breast milk, infant formula, and everything in between
These baby nutrition products include 'infant formula' that aims to mimic breast milk as far as possible.
According to the “Superfood for Babies: Breastfeeding Report” from Save the Children, in 2013 just 36% of babies under six months were fed exclusively on breast milk. Sociologically speaking, the demand for infant formula has exploded primarily as a result of more women than ever before now in work.
"Follow-on formula" can then be used if needed and preferred, as the new-born's needs change as they grow. This means infant formula brands enjoy plenty of scope for innovation.
Examples of infant formula products adapted to child growth, source: Innova Market Insights
Baby formula market context, companies and growth
According to Euromonitor, the infant formula market was worth over $47bn in 2015, with growth set to rise by over 50% by 2020. This growth is most sustained in Asia (CAGR of +38 between 2012 and 2016 according to Innova Market Insights), particularly in China, Hong Kong. Indonesia and Vietnam, which are set to become the most dynamic markets over the next few years. Saudi Arabia also offers significant commercial opportunities for the future. Despite the low number of companies in the market, prices vary considerably from one country to the next.
Global retail market overview: baby milk & food, 2018
A CLOSER LOOK AT BABY FORMULA SPECIALISTS' CHALLENGES
Extremely high expectations and standards
Baby formula can be used alongside, or instead of, breast milk. This means that not only is it important on a nutritional level, it is also powerfully symbolic for parents seeking the very best for their child.
Baby food specialists must take into account new consumer demands while complying with the legislation in force in the country they are selling in. This is absolutely key, and is a real opportunity for manufacturers to highlight and build awareness of their expertise, and reassure consumers of the quality and food safety they are buying.
Quality first and foremost!
Brands need to develop their baby products and work with industrial partners that are committed to following stringent processes. To meet these highest of standards and requirements, brands and manufacturers work with ISO-type international certifications. Find out more about the values upheld by ARMOR*, ARMOR PROTEINES' mother company.
Who decides on the regulations?
Baby formula is required to comply with international, and sometimes local (such as European, Russian or Chinese) regulations. In 1981, the WHO brought in the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, a code that bans advertising of ‘first formula’ products. Since the 1980s, the nutritional composition of baby formula has been governed by the Codex Alimentarius. Nutritional quality control largely depends on each manufacturer's specific quality control policy. For new-borns that are not breastfed, each individual country's manufacturers and food safety authorities are tasked with ensuring that infant formulas are as safe and nutritious as possible.
CHECKLIST OF POINTS OF CONSIDERATION FOR INFANT FORMULA COMPANIES
It is crucial that companies ensure compliance with certain key steps before launching infant formula on a new market, in particular on export markets. They must also regularly ensure compliance with the following points:
- Examine local regulations
- Study local consumer behaviours and trends
- Adapt the product for export
Examine local regulations
Nutritional norms and quality standards can vary from one country to the next, and may even change between the start of a project and the launch date. Get in touch with the local authorities and relevant departments and seek advice from experts in regulations to map out your specifications before the product design stage. ARMOR PROTEINES’ experts are also on hand to support brands through this quality control process.
Maintain optimum quality
In order to develop high-quality infant products, a few points need to be paid particularly close attention:
- Food safety: Ensure flawless microbiological quality
- Functionality: Ensure heat stability for all components to maintain texture and mouth-feel
- High fluidity and non-hygroscopic powder
- Manufacturing: Adapt your chosen process
- Taste: Develop a mild, neutral flavour with no after-taste
- Nutrition: Maintain as close a proximity as possible to breast milk composition
Study local consumer behaviours and trends
- Formulas adapted to local constraints.
- Individual doses offer a strong competitive advantage.
- For some mature markets, explore premiumisation, for example, in China there has been a shift towards very high-end solutions, a trend that is spreading across emerging and developed markets according to Euromonitor.
Adapt the product for export
- Adapted labelling is essential for ensuring recommendations for use, nutritional values and sales descriptions are easy to understand.
- Packaging can also be adapted in terms of format to suit local consumer behaviour.
- Finally, consider constraints linked to transport and shelf life.
In short, all infant formula specialists must remember these four key words before taking on a new market: quality, needs, requirements and localisation. We hope this article points you in the right direction for developing your formulas.
ARMOR PROTEINES, a market leader in sourcing dairy products for the infant formula sector
ARMOR PROTEINES provides tailored support for baby formula manufacturers, from product design to formulation. ARMOR PROTEINES also offers a wide range of milk proteins and ingredients to meet the required level of aminograms in infant and follow-on formulas. Developing infant formulas? Call on our team of experts!
- Save the Children (2013) Superfood for Babies: Breastfeeding Report - Save theChildren (Un super-aliment pour les bébés : Rapport sur l’allaitement – Save theChildren. [EN LIGNE] Disponible (en anglais) à l’adresse suivante
- WHO recommendations on maternal health guidelines approved by the who guidelines review committee updated may 2017
- Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2017 Dec;219:45-52. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2017.10.003. Epub 2017 Oct 4.b Lactoferrin or ferrous salts for iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy: A meta-analysis of randomized trials.
- Organisation mondiale de la santé (2017): Alimentation du nourrisson et du jeune enfant: Aide-mémoire. [EN LIGNE] Disponible à l’adresse suivante
- Euromonitor International (2015) Market Overview: Identifying New Trends and Opportunities in the Global Infant Formula Market, Part I. (Aperçu du marché : Identification des nouvelles tendances et opportunités sur le marché mondial des formules infantiles. 1e partie.) [EN LIGNE] Disponible (en anglais) à l’adresse suivante suivante.