Infant care is being battered in the health debate. At the end of 2013, the NHS called on parents to avoid giving babies fruit-flavoured ‘baby juices’; later Public Health England found one in eight three-year-olds has rotten teeth thanks in part to such products. 

Then, in September, a Glasgow University study of 479 shop-bought babyfoods, including products from Heinz, Cow & Gate and Boots, claimed few were meeting infants’ dietary needs. Half the products were classified as ‘sweet,’ raising fears they are sweetening youngsters’ palates and steering them towards unhealthy choices later in life. 

There’s more cause for tears in the baby aisles, particularly those of the major multiples. Of the big four, only Morrisons has achieved category growth in the past year [Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 12 October 2014]. 

A steep decline in the birth rate in 2013 has taken its toll on the market, as has online giant Amazon, which is stealing sales from bricks & mortar retailers with bulk deals on nappies and wipes. Then there are the discounters: Aldi has seen babycare sales surge by a staggering 68.5% [Kantar]. 

So just how big a bite have all these factors taken out of the market? What are brands and retailers doing to address these issues - particularly the mounting unease about our sweet-toothed youngsters?

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