Arla Foods Ingredients commissioned YouGov to survey 5658 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 about 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, specialised ingredients that can bring infant formula closer to breast milk.”
A total of 5658 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.