Infant formula is engineered food that is used as a substitute to human breast milk. It is one of the most complex foods as it requires specific manufacturing capabilities and sophisticated quality assurance protocols. Infant formula sits on the dividing line between pharmaceuticals and food. This is indicated by the fact that the infant formula industry has historically been dominated by major pharmaceutical firms such Danone Nutricia, Abbott Laboratories, GlaxoSmithKline plc, Pfizer, Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, etc.
Growth in the baby food/formula market is significantly driven by rise in number of working women. According to the World Bank, the percentage of women workforce increased by 4% all over the world from 1990 to 2013. Currently, many working mothers resume their jobs shortly after giving birth. In such a situation, prepared baby formulas and foods offer an attractive alternative to working mothers, fulfilling their need for healthy and nutritious food for their babies.
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The infant formula market is witnessing significant growth due to rise in baby boomers population, increasing disposable income of people in developing regions, and growing female participation in the labor force that has encouraged the acceptance of baby formula and prepared baby foods. In addition, rapid urbanization and the growth of the middle class have further propelled the infant formula market. However, the main barrier to entry for the market is the regulatory hurdle associated with gaining approval for manufacturing of infant formula and food. China has recently implemented more stringent quality and safety standards for manufacturers and distributors of infant formula and food in the country. The China Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) stated that of the 800+ foreign brands distributing infant formula in China, only 94 brands received approval for sale in China. Stringent regulations associated with infant formula products might hinder the growth of the market.
The infant formula market can be segmented on the basis of formula type, formulation, and geography. On the basis of formula type, the market is segmented into infant milk formula, follow on milk formula, growing up milk formula, and specialty baby milk formula. On the basis of formulation, the market is segmented into powder, liquid concentrate, and ready to feed formulas. On the basis of region, the market is segmented into five major geographies; North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa.
In terms of geography, North America accounts for the largest market in terms of revenue. Factors such as high disposable income, presence of major players in the region, and well developed pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry is attributed to the growth of the market in the region. Europe is the second largest market for infant formula owing to good manufacturing facilities and high spending power per baby. Asia Pacific is expected to witness the highest growth rate in the coming years. Factors such as high baby boomer population, increasing disposable income, and high rate of urbanization contribute to the growth of the market in Asia Pacific. Moreover, slowdown in sales in developed regions has compelled leading players to target emerging markets. China’s large population base and rapidly growing volume of consumers with increasing purchasing power is very attractive to multinational brands, however, the 2008 melamine infant formula issue still overshadows the market and has created an environment where consumers are concerned with the health and safety of infant formula.
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Ausnutria Hyproca, Abbott Laboratories, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Glanbia plc, Pfizer, Inc., GlaxoSmithKline plc, Mead Johnson, Nestlé S.A., Perrigo Nutritionals, and Danone Nutricia are some of the key players operating in the infant formula market globally.