Mothers have high awareness of infant formula ingredients from whey, research has shown.
Arla Foods Ingredients commissioned YouGov to survey 5,658 mothers in seven different countries. When asked whether they knew about specific formula ingredients, lactose topped the list – recognised by 66% of mothers – followed by probiotics (63%).
Ingredients from whey were also widely known about. Nearly half of respondents (46%) were aware of whey proteins, 32% knew about whey protein hydrolysates and 31% were aware of phospholipids. Twenty-nine per cent were aware of alpha-lactalbumin, 20% knew of milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) and 16% were aware of osteopontin (OPN).
Whey ingredients also scored highly on preference. Nearly four in ten of the mothers (38%) said they would prefer a product that contained whey proteins, with this figure rising to 55% in China. Alpha-lactalbumin and whey protein hydrolysates were also popular, both scoring 31%. OPN, phospholipids and MFGM scored 28%, 28% and 25% respectively.
Manel Romeu Belles, Global Industry Marketing Manager for Paediatric & Medical Nutrition at Arla Foods Ingredients, said: “This research provides valuable insights into the consumer behaviour of Generation X and Millennial mothers buying infant and baby formula. One of the key findings, for us and for formula manufacturers, is that high numbers of mothers globally not only recognise whey-derived ingredients, but also have a preference for products that contain them. This is particularly true of China, the world’s largest infant formula market.”
High quality (87%), health benefits (83%), product brand reputation and clinically documented ingredients (both 75%) topped the list of product characteristics most important to mothers worldwide. Price (52%) was the least important. When asked which health benefits would influence their decision to buy a particular product, nearly nine in ten (87%) chose “supports healthy growth”. The next most important health benefits were “helps child’s immune system” (86%), gut comfort (85%) and cognitive development (82%).
The research also showed that mothers shop around for formula – only 27% of respondents had never switched brands. Mothers in the UK were the most brand-loyal and those in China and Indonesia the least.
Manel Romeu Belles added: “Although there are some differences between countries, there are also many common themes worldwide. The most important of these are the prioritization of quality over price and a focus on health benefits”.
He continued “With only just over a quarter of mothers never switching brands, there is an opportunity for manufacturers to increase customer loyalty. One of the avenues to achieve that could be by launching products containing high-quality, specialized ingredients that can bring infant formula closer to breast milk.”
A total of 5,658 mothers and mothers-to-be were interviewed in France, South Korea, China, the UK, the USA, Germany and Indonesia. All were aged 18-45, had children up to the age of four and were educated to college level.
Arla Foods Ingredients, which supports WHO recommendations for breastfeeding up to the age of two, offers a range of high-quality ingredients for infant nutrition.