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Whey protein among key drivers in infant nutrition purchasing, Arla study finds

Mothers searching for the optimal infant nutrition product are attracted to high-quality, whey protein options that support “‘healthy growth,” according a YouGov survey commissioned by Arla Foods Ingredients. Spanning 5,658 mothers in seven different countries, the survey sought to uncover common global themes regarding what consumers – particularly generation X and millennials – want from their breast-milk substitute products.

“One of the key findings, for formula manufacturers and for us, is that high numbers of mothers globally not only recognize whey-derived ingredients but also have a preference for products that contain them. This is particularly true of China, the world’s largest infant formula market,” says Manel Romeu Belles, Global Industry Marketing Manager for Pediatric & Medical Nutrition at Arla Foods Ingredients.

When asked which health benefits would influence their decision to buy a particular product, nearly nine in ten (87 percent) chose “supports healthy growth.” The next most important health benefits were “helps a child’s immune system” at 86 percent, gut comfort at 85 percent and cognitiSpanning 5,658 mothers, the survey sought to uncover global themes regarding what consumers want from their breast-milk substitute development at 82 percent.

Nearly four in ten of the mothers, 38 percent, said they would prefer a product that contained whey proteins, with this figure rising to 55 percent in China. Alpha-lactalbumin and whey protein hydrolysates were also popular, both scoring 31 percent. OPN, phospholipids and MFGM scored 28 percent, 28 percent and 25 percent respectively.

High quality (87 percent), health benefits (83 percent), product brand reputation and clinically documented ingredients (both 75 percent) topped the list of product characteristics most important to mothers worldwide. Price, which stood at 52 percent, was the least important.

“Although there are some differences between countries, there are also many common themes worldwide. The most important of these are the prioritization of quality over price and a focus on health benefits,” adds Belles.

The research also showed that mothers shop around for formula – only 27 percent of respondents had never switched brands. Mothers in the UK were the most brand-loyal and those in China and Indonesia the least.

“With only just over a quarter of mothers never switching brands, there is an opportunity for manufacturers to increase customer loyalty. One of the avenues to achieve that could be by launching products containing high-quality, specialized ingredients that can bring infant formula closer to breast milk,” he adds.

Arla Foods Ingredients, which supports WHO recommendations for breastfeeding up to the age of two, offers a range of ingredients for infant nutrition.

The company is to launch a new range of whey protein-based Complementary Feeding solutions that support babies during the gradual move to solid foods. The range taps into a number of points that have been proven to appeal to mothers globally, such as delivering benefits for gut health, allergy management and healthy growth. The range also touts bone development as an added benefit. Product solutions in the new range include a smoothie, yogurt, rusk and porridge products.

“The market for complementary foods is very buoyant and, according to the Innova Market Insights database, the number of new launches in the category grew by an average of 37 percent a year from 2010 to 2016,” says Anne Staudt Kvistgaard, Senior Manager Science and Sales Development at Arla Foods Ingredients

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