Parents’ expectations of infant nutrition
Numerous scientific publications in recent years have demonstrated the importance of the “first 1000 days” in the life of an infant. This period, which extends from conception to the child’s second birthday, is crucial for both the child’s growth and adult health. Parents’ choice of infant food products during this period is not to be taken lightly. From infant formulas to diversification foods, let’s see what parents’ expectations are in terms of infant food.
Key drivers of the infant nutrition market
The demographic context
The demographic context is the first factor to analyze in order to understand the evolution of the infant nutrition market. At the global level, fertility rates have been decreasing for several decades. According to the UN, the average number of births per woman has dropped from 3.2 in 1990 to 2.5 in 2019. This trend does not seem to be slowing down, since the number is estimated to drop to 2.2 in 2050. This phenomenon has, moreover, been reinforced by the global “baby flop” caused by the Covid-19 pandemic: the birth rate has fallen, especially in Southern Europe where the number of births has dropped particularly sharply. There are indeed disparities in these demographic trends, which depend, among other things, on the level of development of countries. In 2019, for example, the average number of births per woman in Togo was 4.3 compared to only 1.7 in the United Kingdom.
The socio-cultural context
Changes in the socio-cultural context and eating habits are also strong determinants of the child nutrition market. The presence of the mother with the infant, and therefore the possibility of breastfeeding, is one of the key factors. It depends on two things in particular:
– The activity rate of women, which varies greatly from one country to another;
– The speed at which working women return to work after the birth of their baby.
Societal developments suggest that the trend is towards a reduction in breastfeeding time. However, this dynamic is not yet a global trend: according to the WHO, 40% of children under six months of age are still exclusively breastfed. The last point to be taken into account in the coming years is the democratization of paternity leave, which will probably have repercussions on the infant food market.
The global infant formula market continues to grow
Against this backdrop of mixed signals for the sector, the global infant formula market continues to grow. It has been estimated to reach 1.76 million tons in 2020, growing at a CAGR of 1.2% to 2024.
Parents’ expectations shape infant nutrition market trends
Infant formulas: the priority is to meet the nutritional needs of babies
Quality food is essential for the proper development of toddlers
Quality food is essential for the proper development of toddlers. Parents are therefore looking for products that best meet the nutritional needs of their child. The WHO states that there is no food better suited to the specific needs of the baby than breast milk. A source of energy and numerous nutrients (lactose, lipids, proteins), it also includes essential compounds for the proper development of the infant’s immune system, such as immune cells, antibodies and specific sugars called HMOs.
Thus, to better meet the needs of the child, manufacturers continue to improve the composition of their infant formulas. The objective is to offer infant formulas whose composition is as close as possible to that of breast milk: enriched in vitamins, essential fatty acids, HMO or specific proteins such as lactoferrin.
Diversification foods: time to indulge
As the child grows, other concerns are added to the nutritional quality requirements of infant products.
– First of all: pleasure! Indeed, the period of food diversification is a determining moment for the child’s taste education. This period can condition the child’s future tastes. It is therefore a real challenge for parents to help their child discover original flavors to awaken their taste buds.
– Secondly: practicality in preparation and transportation. Parents are looking for nomadic formats that promote baby’s autonomy and are compatible with the practice of child-led diversification.
A major challenge for the sector’s manufacturers
One of the main challenges of the sector is to anticipate the new expectations of parents in order to offer them innovative and adapted products. To support you in the development of your innovations, Lactalis Ingredients offers several high-quality ingredients:
– Prolacta® is a soluble protein native to milk, dedicated to infant formula and baby food. Thanks to a non-denaturing manufacturing process, Prolacta® whey proteins retain all their nutritional and functional properties. Moreover, they are manufactured in France.
– Lactose is an essential ingredient in infant formulas. With a guaranteed vitamin B2 content, it is suitable for both dry and wet mixing processes.
Optimizing the composition of infant products to better meet the needs of children while adapting to new consumer trends is a major challenge for manufacturers in the sector!
 United Nations, Department of Economics and Social Affairs. 2020. World Fertility and Family Plan.
 A. Aassve et al. 2021. Early assessment of the relationship between the COVID-19 pandemic and births in high-income countries. PNAS September 7, 2021 118 (36)
 World Bank. 2019. Data.
 Global Data
 WHO. 2021. Infant and young child feeding