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Journal ArticleDOI

Changes in the UK baby food market surveyed in 2013 and 2019: the rise of baby snacks and sweet/savoury foods

17 Jun 2020-Archives of Disease in Childhood (BMJ)-Vol. 105, Iss: 12, pp 1162-1166

TL;DR: Fewer foods are now marketed to infants aged 4 months, but there has been no overall reduction in the sweetness of products and the increase in snack foods and the sugar content of savoury foods is a concern.
Abstract: Objective To assess how the baby food market in the UK has changed between 2013 and 2019. Setting United Kingdom. Design A cross-sectional survey of all infant food products available to buy in the UK online and in-store collected in 2019. Nutritional content and product descriptions were recorded and compared with an existing 2013 database. Main outcome measures Change in the proportion of products marketed to infants aged 4 months, proportion classified as sweet versus savoury, spoonable versus dry (snacks) average sugar content. Results Fewer products were described as suitable for infants aged 4 months in 2019 (201, 23%) compared with 2013 (178, 43%; p Conclusions Fewer foods are now marketed to infants aged 4 months, but there has been no overall reduction in the sweetness of products and the increase in snack foods and the sweetness of savoury foods is a concern.
Topics: Baby food (54%)

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Garcia, A.L., Curtin, L., Ronquillo, D., Parrett, A. and Wright, C.M. (2020) Changes in
the UK baby food market surveyed in 2013 and 2019: the rise of baby snacks and
sweet/savoury foods. Archives of Disease in Childhood, (doi: 10.1136/archdischild-
2020-318845)
There may be differences between this version and the published version. You are
advised to consult the publisher’s version if you wish to cite from it.
http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/214881/
Deposited on 27 May 2020
Enlighten Research publications by members of the University of Glasgow
http://eprints.gla.ac.uk

1
Changes in the UK baby food market surveyed in 2013 and 2019: the rise of baby snacks and
sweet/savoury foods
Garcia AL
1
*; Curtin L
1
, Ronquillo D
1
, Parrett A
1
, Wright CM
2
Affiliations for all authors
1
Human Nutrition, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing, College of Medical, Veterinary & Life
Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G31 2ER, UK
2
Child Health, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing, College of Medical, Veterinary & Life
Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G51 4TF, UK
*Corresponding author
Ada L Garcia
Human Nutrition, School of Medicine, College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences, University of
Glasgow
New Lister Building, Glasgow Royal Infirmary,
10-16 Alexandra Parade, Glasgow, G31 2ER, UK
Tel +44(0)141 201 8687
Email: Ada.Garcia@glasgow.ac.uk
Word count (main body): 2497
Conflict of interest statement
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest
Contributor statement
ALG conceived the study design and supervised data collection and analysis. LC collected data,
undertook analyses, and produced the first draft of the paper. DR collected data and undertook
initial analysis. AP, CMW and ALG helped plan the study and supervised the analyses and write up.
All authors contributed to successive drafts, and have approved the final draft.
Key words
Sugar, snacks, infants, food policy, food marketing, complementary feeding

2
Abstract
Objective
To assess how the baby food market in the UK has changed between 2013 and 2019.
Setting: United Kingdom
Design: A cross sectional survey of all infant food products available to buy in the UK, online and in-
store collected in 2019 to record nutritional content and product descriptions and compared to
existing 2013 data base.
Main outcome measures: change in proportion of products marketed to infants aged 4 months,
proportion classified as sweet versus savoury, spoonable versus dry (snacks), average sugar content.
Results:
Fewer products were described as suitable for infants aged 4 months in 2019 (201, 23%) compared
to 2013 (178, 43%; p<0.001), while the proportion for children in the 6-7 month age range increased
(2013: 135, 33%; 2019: 369 43%; P=0.001).
The proportion of sweet and savoury products was unchanged; sweet spoonable products showed a
small but significant decrease in sugar content (6%) between 2013 and 2019, but savoury spoonable
products showed a 16% increase. Sweet snacks remained very sweet (~20g/100 g median sugar at
both time points) In the 2019 dataset concentrated juice was added to 29% (n=253) of products
and 18% (86) ‘savoury’ products comprised more than 50% sweet vegetables or fruit.
The number and proportion of snacks increased markedly in 2019 (185, 21%) compared with 2013
(42, 10%; P=0.001) while the proportion of wet, spoonable foods decreased (2013 326, 79%; 2019
611 71%; P=0.001).
Conclusions
Fewer foods are now marketed to infants aged four months, but there has been no overall reduction
in sweetness of products and the increase in snack foods and the sweetness of savoury foods is a
concern.

3
What is already known
In 2013 many commercial baby foods were marketed to infants from age 4 months, despite
recommendations to defer solids feeding till 6 months, and nearly half the products were
sweet.
Most of the available products were wet spoonable foods provided in jars.
What this study adds
In 2019 the proportion of foods marketed to infants from age 4 months had dropped
There was no change in the proportion of sweet foods which had a slightly lower sugar
content, but the sugar content of savoury products has increased.
Baby snack products are now much more widespread and a majority of wet foods are now
supplied in pouches.

4
Introduction
The transition from an exclusively milk-based diet to solid foods, should be a gradual process
whereby suitable and nutritious family foods are introduced to the infant
1
. If done appropriately,
this will enable growth and development, while promoting future healthy eating habits. Amongst
guidelines on complementary foods, parents are encouraged to offer home-made baby foods
2
but
58% of UK babies received commercial baby foods (CBFs) between 6 and 12 months
2-4
. The food
environment has a prominent influence on parental food choice from an early age. Therefore,
monitoring the marketing and the nutritional quality of CBF is important for promoting infant health
4
, while an understanding of the types of products available is important for clinicians who are
advising individual families.
In 2013 and 2016 we reported concerns on the nutrition quality and recommendations in food labels
of CBF. Major issues were the recommended age of 4 months displayed on packaging, the large
proportion of sweet products, and the large proportion of smooth purees
5 6
. Recently other
important surveys of the CBF market reported similar concerns
4 7
. In our previous survey few of the
products were baby snacks, but high consumption has been reported
3 8
. More recently there has
been an increase in CBFs packaged in pouches, which are mostly fruit based and high in sugar and in
dry foods, advertised as baby snacks
4 5 7 9
. Concerns exist on the implications these products might
have for the development of feeding skills
10 11
.
The dynamics of the CBF market are of interest to health practitioners, consumers, industry and
public health bodies. In 2019 Public Health England
4
and WHO
7
called for an improvement in the
quality and marketing of CBFs and WHO drafted a baby food profiling system to guide legislation and
implementation of their recommendations at European level
12
. Given the changing nature of CBF
market, increased scrutiny, expansion and presence of CBF’s in the food environment, we
hypothesised that the CBF market would have evolved after our initial report in 2013
5
. Therefore,
the aim of this study was to describe characteristics of baby food products available within the UK
market in 2019 compared to 2013 to establish whether there had been (1) a reduction in the
proportion of products marketed to infants below 6 months; (2) a reduction in the proportion of
sweet based products and sugar content; (3) an increase in the proportion of snack products.
Methods
Data collection
Information was gathered on all infant food products available to buy in the UK online and in-store
by two researchers at two time points, January 2019 and September 2019. Online searches of baby
foods in large UK supermarkets Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, ASDA, TESCO and Waitrose were conducted
at the two time points.. Other online retailers consulted were Ocado and Amazon. Online searches
were made using the key word “baby food” and by consulting the baby food section in the
supermarkets and online retailer websites. Data collection was completed with in-store searches of
the baby food aisle of each supermarket to corroborate products and for missing items. In store
visits only were used to collect information of products sold in Aldi and Lidl. For in store visits the
largest supermarkets in Glasgow were selected.

Citations
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Abstract: Complementary feeding (CF) is an important determinant of early and later life nutrition with great implications for the health status and the development of an adequate growth. Parents can choose between homemade foods (HMFs) and/or commercial infant foods (CIFs). There is no consistent evidence as to whether HMFs provide a better nutritional profile and variety over CIFs. The aim of this study was to compare the nutritional profiles and food variety of HMFs versus CIFs in the Spanish market targeted for infants (6-11 months) and young children (12-18 months). Thirty mothers with their children aged 6 to 18 months were included in this cross-sectional study, following a 3-day weighed food diary of which HMFs were collected and chemically analyzed. HMFs meals for infant provided significantly lower energy, higher protein and higher fiber, for young children provided significantly higher protein and fiber than CIFs meals. HMFs fruit purees for infant shown significantly higher fiber and for young children provided higher energy than CIFs. HMFs meals contained a significantly greater number of different vegetables than CIFs meals (3.7 vs. 3.3), with carrot as the most frequently used in both. However, in CIFs fruit purees shown higher different fruits than HMFs, in both the banana was the fruit most frequently used. There was a predominance of meat and lack of oily fish and legumes in both HMFs and CIFs meals. HMFs and CIFs were equally characterized by a soft texture and yellow-orange colours. Importantly, our findings emphasize the need for clear guidelines for the preparation of HMFs as well as the promotion of food variety (taste and textures) in both HMFs and CIFs to suit infants' and young children's nutritional and developmental needs.

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TL;DR: If children’s diets include CACFs, non-commercial meals must be offered as well in order to meet nutritional guidelines related to the introduction of common food allergens, diversity of flavours, and complex textures for infants and toddlers.
Abstract: Optimal nutrition in early childhood fosters growth and development whilst preventing morbidity and mortality in later life. There is little research in New Zealand on commercially available complementary foods (CACFs). This cross-sectional study of the nutritional aspects and packaging of CACFs used data collected in four major supermarket chains in New Zealand in 2019 (Nutritrack). Of the 197 CACFs analysed, 43 (21.8%) were inappropriately recommended for consumption by children four months of age or older, 10 (5.1%) had added salt, and 67 (34.0%) contained free sugars. The majority (n = 136, 69.0%) contained ingredients with a sweet flavour. Relatively sweet vegetables like carrot and sweetcorn were used more often than bitter vegetables such as broccoli and spinach. The described texture of most (n = 145, 62.1%) wet 'spoonable' products was of the lowest complexity (smooth, pureed, custard). CACFs would adequately expose children to cow's milk and wheat but not to other common food allergens (cooked hen's egg, soy, fish, crustacean shellfish, peanut, and tree-nuts). If children's diets include CACFs, non-commercial meals must be offered as well in order to meet nutritional guidelines related to the introduction of common food allergens, diversity of flavours, and complex textures for infants and toddlers.

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Cites background from "Changes in the UK baby food market ..."

  • ...0% in 2019, the number of discrete products targeted for the same age-group actually rose from 178 to 201 different product types [24]....

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References
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01 Jan 2011

421 citations


Journal Article

298 citations


01 Jan 2005
TL;DR: This survey contains information collected regarding the feeding of infants from birth to nine months old, which includes data on initial incidence of breastfeeding and duration, the use of formula and cows milk, factors associated with mothers' feeding intentions and cessation of breastfeeding, when mothers introduce solid foods and what is given and why.
Abstract: This survey contains information collected regarding the feeding of infants from birth to nine months old. The survey provides information on the feeding practices adopted by mothers in the early weeks up to around 9 months after the baby's birth. It includes data on initial incidence of breastfeeding and duration, the use of formula and cows milk, factors associated with mothers' feeding intentions and cessation of breastfeeding, when mothers introduce solid foods and what is given and why. The survey also includes information on mothers' smoking and drinking behaviour during pregnancy and birth. The Infant Feeding Survey has been conducted every five years since 1975. The 2005 Infant Feeding Survey was the seventh national survey of infant feeding practices to be conducted. The main aims of the survey are to: - Establish how infants are fed and to provide national figures on the incidence, prevalence and duration of breastfeeding - Examine recent trends in infant feeding practices over recent years - Investigate the factors associated with mothers' feeding intentions and with the feeding practices adopted. This survey has a Northern Ireland component

248 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The majority of products had energy content similar to breast milk and would not serve the intended purpose of enhancing the nutrient density and diversity of taste and texture in infants’ diets.
Abstract: Background and aims Health professionals are frequently asked to advise on aspects of complementary feeding. This study aimed to describe the types of commercial infant foods available in the UK and provide an overview of their taste, texture and nutritional content in terms of energy, protein, carbohydrates, fat, sugar, iron, sodium and calcium. Method All infant foods produced by four main UK manufacturers and two more specialist suppliers were identified during October 2010–February 2011. Nutritional information for each product was collected from manufacturers’ websites, products in store and via direct email enquiry. Results Of the 479 products identified in this study 364 (79%) were ready-made spoonable foods; 44% (201) were aimed at infants from 4 months, and 65% of these were sweet foods. The mean (SD) energy content of ready-made spoonable foods was 282 (59) kJ per 100 g, almost identical to breast milk (283(16) kJ per 100 g). Similar spoonable family foods were more nutrient dense than commercial foods. Commercial finger foods were more energy dense, but had very high sugar content. Conclusions The UK infant food market mainly supplies sweet, soft, spoonable foods targeted from age 4 months. The majority of products had energy content similar to breast milk and would not serve the intended purpose of enhancing the nutrient density and diversity of taste and texture in infants’ diets.

62 citations