Baby food needs to be palatable for parents too

April 26, 2017
3 min read

Parents use all sorts of playful strategies to feed their babies, for example they pretend that the food is a “choo-choo” train going into a tunnel or a flying airplane to encourage them to open their mouths. Trying the food themselves is also a common and credible way for parents to “sell” the product to their offspring: after tasting it, parents act with delight and enjoyment to convince the baby that their food is worth trying.

Parents have a little taste of their baby’s food

Parents are therefore regular users of baby food themselves, suggesting that baby food brands need to appeal to parents’ taste buds, as well as babies’. In fact, over two-thirds of Italian, Spanish and Polish parents of children aged 0 to 4 years old claim to regularly taste baby/toddler food before feeding it to their child. In Germany and France, parents are less likely to taste baby food, yet, at respectively 48% and 45%, the portion of parents doing so is not negligible.Beyond palatability, parents might taste baby food to check whether it is at the right temperature or if the texture is appropriate to their children’s ability – or not – to chew.

Even more interesting is the share of parents who finish off their baby’s food. Almost half of French parents of children aged 0 to 4 claim to regularly help their youngest child finish his/her food by eating it themselves. The fact that parents admit to regularly finish their youngest child’s food suggests that they like the food, or at least they are ready to pretend that they like it.

Flavour is not the first criteria of choice

Because parents are not the main users, flavour, and therefore taste, are not their first criteria of choice when buying baby food. Instead, a high number of European parents are looking for products that are free of additives and preservatives. Their options are plentiful: among baby food and drink (excluding milk and formula) launched in Europe in the 12 months to September 2016, over half featured a no additives/preservatives claim.

Other health criteria matter more than flavour to European parents, namely no added sugar. In fact, no added sugar is the primary purchasing factor for German parents of children aged 0 to 4 years old. The rising concerns related to excessive sugar consumption have encouraged brands to increase their introduction of baby food and drink claiming to be reduced in sugar. Among baby food and drink (excluding milk and formula) launched in Europe in the 12 months to September 2016, 45% featured a no/low/reduced sugar claim, compared to less than a third of products launched in the previous 12 months.

Overall, baby food brands in Europe are in tune with parents’ expectations and innovation reflects parents’ criteria of choice.

Caroline provides robust consumer insights and realistic recommendations to dairy companies and tracks global innovation and consumer trends to assist clients in their growth strategies. Prior to Mintel, Caroline managed brand strategy in the UK and France for a FTSE 250 dairy company. As part of this she led annual brand planning; developed and executed marketing plans, including advertising campaigns and media planning; and, drove innovation and renovation projects, from market research to in-store implementation.

Caroline Roux
Caroline Roux

As a Consultant Analyst, Caroline provides consumer insights and recommendations to dairy companies and tracks global innovation and consumer trends.

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