India is the second most populated country in the world after China despite not having a high birth rate. The Indian baby food industry was recently valued in billions of US dollars showing the vastness of this sector. According to the study, ‘THE BABY FOOD SECTOR IN INDIA, 2018’, the target consumers of commercially available baby food range from infants (babies aged six to twelve months ) to toddlers (children up to three years old). Baby food is available in various flavors and in both solid and liquid form. India comes under the categories of developed and developing nations whose population, due to modern day time constraints, has reduced the use of homemade baby food.
India’s economic and industrial stronghold has not benefitted its baby nutrition sector since India is among the world’s five largest emerging economies where investment in breastfeeding is significantly low resulting in an annual economic loss of billions of US Dollars due to child deaths and cognitive losses. As employment increases young working women have begun shifting to packaged baby food for supplementing breast milk. While focus has mainly been on milk formula and dried baby food, several prepared baby foods and other such products made appearances on store shelves of major cities in 2010 and have been flourishing ever since. Every company is adopting the strategy of new flavors and new nutritional content in order to attract customers. Growing concerns about nutrition has made parents conscious about what their babies consume and hence, organic baby food is also coming up these days. The company, 24 Mantra Organic is more than a decade old and is India’s largest organic foods brand. Happy Family Organic Super Foods has a range of baby foods that include puree pouches of mango, apple and peach among others. Pristine Organics is the first brand in India to make certified organic weaning foods. Earth’s Best Organic Baby Food provides a wide range of baby food including infant cereals, food for toddlers and age specific options as well.
Though baby food market in India is one of the fastest emerging sectors, the government’s regulation in India is very strong and makes it tough to operate in infant food and nutrition. India’s policies regarding milk formula and infant foods are stricter than those of some of its neighbors and advertising in the category is banned. However, retailers and companies partner for mutual gain. Supermarket chain Big Bazaar launched imported prepared baby food brand Gerber in their outlets in the metro cities in 2010. Even vegetable flavors have been launched in certain baby food products as mothers consider such variants to be more nutritious. Even the most renowned organic baby food manufacturers in the country cannot compete with Nestle which has an absolute monopoly over the Indian baby food market. This company is holding nearly four-fifth of the entire child nutrition market in India.
The rapidly growing Indian baby food sector’s success can be attributed to the fact that it has identified the target audience properly. Urbanization is leading to a greater demand for packaged baby food however; growing concerns regarding child nutrition keep the quality aspect in check. India too is adopting organic baby food but with unfavorable legal situations, companies and retailers seem to benefit mostly in partnerships.
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Ankur Gupta, Head Marketing & Communications