Probiotics in baby food is gaining traction as part of the broader health & wellness megatrend in the food & beverage category. Typically, probiotic products have been seen as a feature of infant supplements, but now they are making inroads in baby food too.
People are talking about probiotics
Consumer interest in probiotics is overtaking other baby food features, making it the most important baby food offering. Probiotics offer companies an opportunity for differentiation since consumer discussion is still slightly ahead of product saturation.
Top features mentioned by consumers in infant supplements (US Data Oct. 2016–Feb. 2019)
Baby food ecosystem comparing products in market vs. consumer discussions highlighting probiotics (US Data Oct. 2016–Feb. 2019)
Cereals and snacks rule the day
A closer look at the baby food space shows that the snacks and cereals segments have the highest percentage of probiotics products, followed by yogurts and fruit purees/mashups.
Baby food products by sub-segment containing probiotics (US Data Oct. 2016–Feb. 2019)
Happy Family is the leading brand for probiotic baby foods. It does more to push probiotics than any other brand, and consumer discussion shows that probiotics are seen as a strong component of their brand identity.
Leading brands offering baby food including probiotics (US Data Oct. 2016–Feb. 2019)
Happy Family brand feature perception amongst consumers (US Data Oct. 2016–Feb. 2019)
The demand for probiotic baby foods accompanies a general rise in consumer need for products that help reduce infant gas and colic. This is a known benefit of probiotics, which has been growing at a rate of 19.3% over the last two years in consumer discussion, and has probably been helping to fuel their growing popularity.
Consumer discussions around gas and colic in baby food (US Data Oct. 2016–Feb. 2019)
Prebiotics are next
Prebiotics have been gaining traction among consumers in the last two years, though it trails behind probiotics in consumer discussion. Prebiotics are foods that are high in fiber, like oats, bananas, and asparagus. They complement probiotics and help stimulate their growth, working together to improve gut and digestive activity.
In the general foods and beverages market, consumers show that they appreciate the benefits of overlapping prebiotics with probiotics, but this feature hasn’t yet taken off for baby foods. Barely any baby food products claim to include prebiotics.
Given its strength in probiotic baby food products, it’s not surprising that Happy Family is one of the few major baby food brands to discuss prebiotics on their website, although they target infant formula rather than baby food.
In contrast to probiotic products, the most prevalent prebiotic baby food solution is found in juices and beverages, rather than cereals and snacks. The Vanilla Shake by Abbott is one prebiotic baby drink.
Healthy growth for baby food brands
Both probiotic and prebiotic baby food products present ongoing opportunities for baby food brands to differentiate themselves. The prebiotic baby foods market offers a ripe opportunity for a brand to be the first-to-market in this space.
Probiotic baby foods still have room to grow, especially outside of the primary segments of snacks and cereals. We expect probiotic and prebiotic baby food products to grow and thrive.
Written by Courtney Olsen
CPG/F&B Business Consultant at Signals Analytics
Courtney has an extensive background in market analysis and advertising. At Signals Analytics, she works across various industries, including Infant Nutrition, Skin Care and Cosmetics.
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