In China, organic food is seen as critical in maintaining a healthy diet, with just over six in 10 urban Chinese consumers saying organic food is integral to achieving a healthy, balanced diet, according to Mintel research.

And this attitude exists for organic baby food as well. In fact, Mintel research conducted in 2015 found that over half of Chinese mums aged between 20 and 39 trust the product quality of packaged baby foods that are made using organic ingredients.

There is potential for manufacturers to develop organic baby foods which fulfil this demand. Organic pre-packaged baby foods can also encourage Chinese consumers to reappraise the category, since it is widely accepted that simple, homemade goods tend to be purer and healthier for babies in comparison to those bought from the shops.

Organic baby foods still largely a niche market

The Chinese market for organic baby foods is somewhat underdeveloped, despite an increase in consumer demand. According to Mintel Global New Products Database, between March 2015 and February 2017, only 5% of launches in China’s baby food and drink market – including milk formula – were certified organic, compared to 29% globally.

Furthermore, over half of these organic launches in China fall under the baby milk powder segment, followed by cereal, and then snacks. A number of key categories like fruits, desserts and yogurts have no organic options just yet. In the global market however, one third of organic baby food and drink launches fall under the fruit, desserts and yogurts sub-category.

Filling the gap with organic fruits

China’s organic baby food market remains small, especially when it comes to fruit products. However, if manufacturers in China look to the global popularity of this segment for inspiration, organic fruit products could work their way into Chinese consumers’ hearts.

Based on Mintel research, the percentage of Chinese mums who trust the quality of packaged organic baby foods rises in line with household incomes, and the country’s growing levels of household wealth could drive growth in the organic baby food and drinks category overall.

The relaxation of China’s one-child policy could also bring a positive impact on pre-packaged baby foods. With the government in talks to incentivise families that are looking to have a second child, families may soon have more financial freedom to purchase better quality baby foods.

As such, the potential of increasing wealth and rising number of newborns could give China’s baby food and drink manufacturers enough impetus to develop packaged organic fruit products to cater to consumer demand for better quality and organic baby food and drink.

Loris Li is a Food & Drink Analyst at Mintel and is based in the Shanghai office. Prior to joining Mintel, she worked in the wine and spirits industry for over six years, both in the US and in China.

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