Rice baby

You are what you eat. If that’s true, Britain could be raising a new generation of superheroes, as babyfoods fortified with functional ingredients and containing so called ‘superfoods’ steal growing share of the market.

Examples abound. Ready meal brand Little Dish is moving into snacks with Go Gos, flax and chia seed biscuits with pea protein; Ella’s Kitchen has expanded its snacks range with its first products for three to five-year-olds, including bars containing flax and oats and fruit & veg smoothies; Aptamil claims its latest formula milk is fortified with the highest levels of omega-3 in the UK.

It’s not just what’s being put into babyfood that’s of interest. It’s what’s coming out, and most brands are looking to reduce sugar. Kiddylicious is touting its wafers as a lower-sugar alternative to rusks; Bear claims its new Claws snacks have the lowest sugar content in the fruit snacks market; Cow & Gate says 90% of its products are now no added sugar. 

Crucially, parents will pay more for food they perceive to be healthier. Sales of babyfood have inched up 0.9% on volumes down 4.6% [Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 11 October 2015], helping to offset deflation in other key baby sectors such as wipes and nappies. Still, the overall babycare sector has declined 1.9% to just shy of £1.5bn on volumes down 2.5% in the past year. So how can it recover?