Baby food is growing up. Little jars of strained peas and banana purée may have worked for previous generations, but today’s parents are demanding more from brands. Health-conscious consumers focused on avoiding added sugars, artificial colors and flavors, and exposure to potential allergens have become parents hoping to do the same for their babies. Yet, almost half of all Millennial consumers still rely on baby food manufacturers to educate them about their child’s nutritional needs.
Food Allergies a Top Concern Among Parents
Food allergies in kids have increased by 50% in the past twenty years; it’s estimated that 1 in 13 American children under 18 have a food allergy, a total of 5.9 million kids. Parents are understandably concerned that their child may be affected, five out of every six parents say they are concerned about their child developing food allergies. But this doesn’t automatically mean they’re avoiding potential allergens altogether. Rather, parents are looking for a detailed understanding of baby and toddler food ingredients so they know exactly what they’re exposing their child to at mealtime. In fact, 87% of younger Millennial parents (18-24) and 84% of older Millennial parents (25-34) believe it’s important to expose children to a variety of foods so they do not develop allergies. Clear and precise labeling, including free-from claims for those who have already identified sensitivities, and content that cites the latest pediatric guidelines can help consumers make the best choices for their babies.
As consumers increasingly opt for fewer processed foods, it’s not surprising that parents are opting for organic, GMO-free, and additive/preservative free products for their children. Launches of new baby/toddler foods bearing those claims have almost doubled since 2014. Similarly, parents wish to expose their children to a variety of flavors at younger ages, with more than a third agreeing that baby/toddler cereals and jarred baby foods need a flavor boost. Additionally, 28% would be interested in trying foods with international flavors (Chinese, Indian) and almost a quarter believe herbs, like basil and rosemary, would spice up kiddie foods. While parents want more flavor, they don’t want added sugar and are keeping an eye on their child’s calorie intake. Instead, parents agree that manufacturers can improve both flavor and nutritional value by adding superfoods, such as blueberries and pomegranate, and increasing the variety of whole grains in cereal.
Baby on Board
Busy families are looking for solutions to feeding baby on the go. Half of parents seek foods that come in re-sealable packaging and convenience-oriented single-serving healthy snacks (such as hummus and vegetable-based dips) for toddlers. Shortcuts that eliminate wait time and cleanup, such as squeezable meal and snack pouches allow little ones to feed themselves with minimal mess. Most parents typically stock up on baby food when they’re grocery shopping for themselves, baby foods are generally purchased at mass retailers and supermarkets; only 20% of consumers shop at natural or specialty retailers for these items.
These trends reflect the overall movement toward natural, more nutritious foods free from additives and preservatives. As new parents, they want the best for their babies and are more carefully reading labels and evaluating brands. Earn their trust by clearly labeling foods and offering transparency in origin. Build awareness with social content that humorously and honestly reflects today’s parenting struggles and challenges while acknowledging that parents are doing their best to nourish their child and that begins with your best-in-class product.
Learn more about how today's parents shop and select brands. Our insights team tracks market trends and consumer behavior to inform positioning and stragegy. Contact us today to learn how our suite of marketing services can help your brand grow.
Sources: FARE Food Allergy Research & Education, Mintel Food and Drink Babies & Toddlers, March 2017