Infant Feeding Trends for Healthy Infants

Explore the latest infant feeding trends, including key ingredients and leading companies in the global baby food market

March 5, 2024 – Infant feeding beyond breast feeding includes subcategories such as baby formulas and milks, cereals and biscuits, baby meals, baby fruit desserts and yogurts, and baby snacks. Infant feeding trends differ geographically and feature various products and benefits.

Asia Leads Growth Trends for Infant Formula and Milk

Asia is the leading market for baby formula and milk. Per capita consumption of baby formula and milk is highest in Hong Kong and Singapore. Baby formula and milk growth in market value and market volume has been steady. China accounts for two-thirds of the market value for baby formula and milk and is the fastest growing for retail and out-of-home volume. Retail value is growing fastest in Vietnam and also Australia.

Baby Cereals Eaten Most in Middle East, Eastern Europe

Per capita consumption of baby cereals is highest in the Middle East and East Europe while baby cereal market value is highest in the US. Growth in value and volume of baby cereals is expected to continue at a steady rate.

Per capita consumption of baby meals is highest in Canada and Europe.

Nestlé Leads Among Global Brands

Nestlé is the leading manufacturer of infant feeding products such as baby formula and milk in Latin America and Africa and is the leading innovator of baby formula and milk globally. Nutricia, a Danone brand, also is an innovator in formulas and milks for babies and infants. In other regions, several global and local companies produces food and beverage products for babies and infants. 

Infant Feeding Trends

Indexed Growth of Baby Foods and Drinks Fluctuates

Global indexed growth of formula/milk, cereals, meals, desserts and snack launches has fluctuated over a five-year period. The highest number of launches of baby formulas and milks, and also baby cereals, is in Asia. Asia also is the second region behind West Europe for meals.

The prominence of baby milk and formula varies in each region led by the Middle East with 50% and Latin America with 40% in 2022. In 2023, penetration of formulas dropped in all regions except Africa.

Top health claims in baby and infant formula and milk include immune health, brain health, DHA and protein.

Cow’s Milk, Omega-3s, and Probiotics are Key Ingredients in Baby Formula and Milk

Cow’s milk is the main base for baby formula and milk, although sheep milk and goat milk are growing. Many formulas have whey protein ingredients. DHA and arachidonic acid are key omega-3s that are important for brain development. Some formulas also have blended oils. Probiotic Bifidobacterium strains are prominent and prebiotic ingredients often are added.

Food and Beverage Trends Impact the Baby and Toddlers Marketplace

Global top trends that impact the baby and toddlers market include Ingredients: Taking the Spotlight, Prioritizing Prevention, and Oceans of Possibility.

North America is a top region for baby formula, cereal and meals, including market value, market volume, and new product launches. Growth is expected to continue for infant and baby formula and milk, baby cereals, and baby meals. Western and Eastern European countries lead infant feeding for per capita consumption of baby cereals and baby meals. Robust launch activity in meals in Western Europe is expected to continue. Led by Brazil and Mexico, Latin America has modest market value and market growth in products for babies and infants. Countries in the Middle East are among the leaders in per capita consumption of formulas and cereals but have the lowest market value for formula, cereals and meals. Asian countries are the leaders in market value of baby and infant formulas and milks and baby cereals. Innovation in China drives the baby formula market.

What’s Next? Prebiotics and Plant-based Will Gain Attention

Prebiotics, including HMOs, will become more widely used in foods and beverages for babies and infant feeding to better replicate breast milk and maintain digestive health. Plant-based ingredient trends will include greater use of algae-based omega-3 fatty acid sources. Other trends for the future could include ingredients for better absorption of important nutrients, precision fermentation to produce various functional ingredients, more innovation from China, product line extensions for different age stages, and functional snacks.


This article is based on our insider report, “Nourishing Healthy Infants: Global.” If you are interested in reading this report, feel free to request a demo.
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