Whilst baby food has seen some pack innovation in the last few years, it does seem to be very slow when it comes to differentiating its claims and benefits. Being organic and having no additives dominate claims and benefits but with all the brands claiming more or less the same thing is there any real differentiation?
In contrast, adult foods have seen considerable innovation in new ingredients and functional foods. It seems reasonable that the baby food category could have looked to its neighbour for possible innovation ideas. Especially as baby food needs to help prepare babies and toddlers for the wealth of choices they face as they move on to adult food. So, which adult food trends is baby & toddler innovation currently missing out on?
One of the most notable trends in adult food has been the growth in super foods. Fruit and veg, such as blueberries, pomegranate, goji berries, acai and beetroot, provide anti oxidants and higher levels of nutrition. Yet only blueberries are really seen in baby food. Given one of the main concerns parents have is getting enough nutrition for their baby/ toddler, including highly nutritious super foods would seem to be a great opportunity to attract parents. Super nutritious products could be a great way to differentiate your brand and fill a opportunity gap in the market.
2. Enriched/High In
Keeping the focus on nutrition, adult foods have also seen a great deal of growth in enriched/ high in foods such as enriched with calcium, or high in protein. Both these are key nutrients for baby and toddler growth so could baby/ toddler food add more functionality to its food too? Currently within wet foods and toddler snacking, the focus is on being free from additives. So could added functionality supporting a high nutrition message such as “nutrition packed into every mouthful” be more effective? Can breaking this category norm and providing a strong new benefit set a brand apart from the competition?
3. Ancient Grains
Ancient grains have been storming through adult food of late. Could the easier to digest grains such as quinoa, farro, spelt etc. offer a gentler introduction to food for babies’ tummies than current starch products? Adults are buying into this easier to digest trend as strong growth in the free from aisle demonstrates. We can visualise messaging around being gentle on babies’ tummies as well as offering new and exciting recipes. If it’s good enough for mum and dad, why not baby? Who will be the first to jump on the opportunity to build a brand or a sub-range based on the goodness of grains?
4. Healthier Snacking
New snacking innovations are launched all the time in adult snacks. Some of these ideas could really lend themselves to introducing toddlers to healthier ways of snacking from an early age. Crisps are seeing a change in terms of the base ingredient – out with potato and in with quinoa, lentils and coconut, to name a few options. The method of making crisps is also continually getting healthier with Walkers Pops (air popped) being the latest alternative. Could the toddler corn puff be updated with popped crisps? Toddler snacking is a good growth category but it needs continual innovation to fuel it.
Clearly, baby and toddler food is a specialist area and care needs to be taken with its ingredients but this doesn’t mean it can’t take advantage of some of these adult trends. This tool of searching for innovation inspiration from a neighbouring category can be highly effective.
Yes, innovating in the highly regulated baby category is tough. So there is no need to make it any harder……just grab inspiration from the grown ups!