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Brooke Bright

By: Brooke Bright on October 24th, 2018

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Millennial Parents Demand Transparency. Are Baby Food Brands Keeping Pace?

Trends & Research  |  industry news  |  health & wellness

AS-134609536-Family-Shopping-Cart-At-Grocery-Store-1920x1080It’s no secret that Americans have become increasingly more health-conscious across all areas of life. But we’ve recently found that the presence of children in a household often creates a greater desire to know and understand more about the food being served to the entire family. Recent research suggests that parents place greater importance on knowing more information about ingredients, nutrition, health benefits and other product information when deciding what products to buy.

This trend has impacted the baby food and drink market, which is expected to exceed more than $80 billion by 2024. Emmanuel Faber, the CEO of the $48 billion food company Danone, recently shared during an interview that he believes the world is undergoing a "food revolution," and that millennial parents, in particular, are “agents of change.”

As parents become more vocal about their concerns around what their children are eating or drinking, baby food manufacturers are being tasked with meeting these demands, or at least providing more transparency about the ingredients being used within products.

We asked our data team to cull through Label Insight’s database to determine whether or not baby food brands were fully meeting the demands for “healthy-for-you” products. Our initial take? While brands are making an effort - and there are definitely baby food items available for health-conscious parents - there’s still ground to cover.

Nearly half of consumers (47 percent) are planning to eat less sugar or buy more 'no sugar added' products this year. But of the thousands of baby food products available, only 354 baby food products made claims of “No Added Sugar/Without Added Sugar/No Sugar Added.” And only 72 items made claims of “Reduced/Less/Lower/Lower in Sugar.” Not surprisingly, the “Pureed Baby Food & Pouches” category had the highest number of claims related to sugar (303).

Beyond reducing sugar in their (and their family's) diet, parents are focused on purchasing “natural” baby products with fewer ingredients in an effort to reduce allergies and eat a “cleaner” diet. We found 745 baby food products that touted using “natural” ingredients, while an additional 427 products used the language “all natural” ingredients. Once again, the

“Pureed Baby Food & Pouches” category had the largest number of products making “natural” claims (1,100+ products).

The FDA’s call for a new Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods will certainly aid parents who seek an easier way to make better informed food and beverage choices. And while the FDA extended the compliance dates to January 1, 2020, many brands have already adopted the new Nutrition Facts panel to provide greater transparency to concerned shoppers.

We found that packaged products within the “Snacks, Cookies & Candy” aisle had the largest number of conversions to the new nutrition facts panel (a total of 5,088 products). This was followed by products within the “Dairy” (2,769), “Frozen Food” (2,370) and “Drinks” (2,161) aisles. Conversely, products in the “Meat & Seafood” (125), “Baby Food” (292), and “Diet & Nutrition” (431) aisles had the fewest conversions to the new nutrition facts label.

There is clearly demand for “healthier-for-you” baby food products, and brands have an opportunity to capture the trust of parents seeking more transparency into the ingredients being used in baby food. Baby food brands must be authentic and transparent, but also flexible enough to remain relevant to a wider array of consumers.

Label Insight can help you develop a strategic roadmap for your transparency initiatives, from updates to the new Nutrition Facts Panel to SmartLabel™. To get started on the path to transparency, contact us today.

About Brooke Bright

Brooke is the director of retail product management at Label Insight. Brooke and team build turnkey solutions to empower retailers with critical data to increase digital discovery, improve e-commerce site user experience, develop differentiated wellness programs, and foster shopper trust through increased product transparency. By providing retailers access to this key set of data and insights, retailers can make data-driven decisions across their organization and continue to increase revenue and shopper loyalty. Brooke is passionate about data, business strategy, and product vision. She likes to spend time in-market with our customers learning more about their unique set of challenges and goals and enjoys leveraging this knowledge to continue building hyper-relevant and valuable products.