An infant's better health and nutritional needs depend upon the feeding they get, complementary feeding products are helping the parents to manage their infant's feeding needs.
Proper feeding increases the immunity and health of infants and young children. Breastfeed plays an important role in defining the growth and development of children. Infants are most vulnerable to get caught up with various diseases, so to get prepared against that unwanted situation the process of providing them with need full nutrition starts right after few months of birth. It is advisable to exclusively breastfeed the infants exclusively at least till the age of 6 months. Early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth protects the newborn from acquiring infection and reduces newborn mortality. It was found in a study that if a child is breastfed at least till the age of 12 months the chances of getting overweight reduces at the lowest level. It also improves maternal health also continued breastfeeding delays the return to fertility contributing to longer birth intervals in the absence of contraceptive use moreover it also reduces the chances of breast cancer. However, there are cases when the woman is not able to produce healthy milk or is undergoing any medication at that point of time they are advised to provide a milk substitute except solid foods to give the infant proper nutrition till the age of 6 months.
India's baby food market has witnessed significant growth in the past few years. According to the report "India Baby Food Market By Value, By Type (Infant Milk Formula, Baby Cereals, Follow-Up Formula, Prepared Food & Others), By Pack Size (0-200 gms, 201-400 gms, 500 gms and above), By Pack Type ( Box, Tin/Jar, Refill, Pouch), By Age Group ( 0-6 Months, 6-12 Months, 12-18 Months, 18-24 Months, 24 & Above Months, By Sales Channel ( General Retail, Multi-Brand Retail, Online), By Company (Nestle India, Danone Nutricia, GCMMF (Amul), etc.), By Brand (Amulspray, Cerelac, Lactogen, etc.), By Region (East, West, North, South), By Demographics (Urban, Rural), (Trends & Forecast) Outlook, 2025" published by Actual Market Research the market has grown strongly and has successfully crossed the mark of INR 4500 Crore with an expectation to grow big in coming years. It is been observed that when an infant crosses 6 months of age their nutritional needs increase. At that point in time, they are been exposed to complementary foods and solid foods such as infant milk, baby cereals, follow-up formulas, prepared foods, etc.
Products performance in the market
Infant baby milk is the form of milk that can be given to the infant within the age of 6 months and beyond it. Due to that it holds a prominent position in the market and has been growing at a CAGR of around 16% in the last couple of years. The Indian baby food market has developed a large segment for Infant milk formula as an alternative to breastfeeding. This led to the propagation of formula feeding which was further supported by the health systems. Baby cereal is made of nutrition-based ingredients and grains such as rice, wheat, oatmeal, etc. which promises to provide high nutrition and vitamins to babies at an early stage. Rice-based baby cereals is popular amongst all types of cereal. However, there is a number of variants available with various flavors in the baby cereal food category. This formula is not necessarily termed milk as they are not based on animal milk but they are based on plant protein sources. Follow-up formula in the baby food category is preferred for children with the age of 6 months and up they are often called as Growing-Up Milk or Toddler Milk. Infants should not be provided with these formula products when they are less than 6 months old. Apart from all these forms of products prepared food are the trending category in this market which includes products like pureed vegetable & fruits, dry meals, baby drinks, baby wet meals, baby finger foods, special energy formula, and others form of baby food includes biscuit, puffs, snacks, etc.
Some on-going trends
Organic food is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the food industry overall. Indian organic baby food market is highly untapped and under-penetrated along with few organic baby food players. Pristine Organics and British Life Sciences are two companies that sell organic baby food in India. The organic baby food segment has a wide gap that needs to fill. Consumers are increasingly health-conscious and looking for natural, minimally processed foods, and the stakes are even higher when it comes to their babies. More parents are seeking foods that set their children up for a healthy life even if it comes at a premium. The segment is expected to grow as more parents can afford to trade up.
Major companies present in the market
Major companies operating in the baby food market of India are Nestle India Ltd, GCMMF (Amul), Nutricia International Pvt. Ltd. (Danone Nutricia India), Abbott India Ltd., Manna Foods Pvt. Ltd., Pristine Organics Pvt. Ltd., Mead Johnson India Pvt. Ltd., Raptakos Brett & Co.