A total of 2,334 mothers with at least one toddler and residing in six APAC countries (Singapore, China, Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand) and the US participated in an online survey conducted by Australian pharma and nutraceutical company Max Biocare between March to April 2021.
The survey found that nutrition topped the list in qualities looked for in toddler milk at 51.5%, followed by brand (18.9%), and shelf life (9.3%).
Cost (4.8%), and taste (1.6%) were of a lesser concern.
When asked to rank health benefits that were most important in toddler milk, it appeared that consumer health benefits of toddler formulas have shifted away from gut health.
Across all seven countries, brain health (29.1%) and immune health (27.8%) topped the charts, followed by growth and height gain (18.8%), along with gut health (18.6%), and eye health (5.5%).
Immune health priority
While the quality, purity and nutritional value of formulas have always been important, the survey found a recent shift towards health benefits around supporting the immune system, triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This trend toward immune health is understandable, in view of the global pandemic crisis of 2020, when parents have become more conscious about maintaining their family’s health through good nutrition,” the firm said.
Results from the survey showed Singapore topped the list in prioritising immune health in toddler formulas (40.8% of mothers indicated so), followed by China (32.9%), Australia (32.8%), Indonesia (30.9%), Vietnam (27.8%), Thailand (23.9%), and lastly US (9.5%).
According to Francis Tang, regional sales lead (Asia) at Max Biocare, the focus on immune health in Singapore may be due to its strategic location, trade types and a general understanding that staying healthy is important.
“This can be seen in how Singapore has been controlling the COVID-19 situation, by comparing its progress and number of COVID-19 cases/death with Europe and the US, and reflects a strong will/determination to get back to normal life.”
Surprisingly, not even 10% of US respondent considered immunity to be of major concern.
“We found they had actually had a higher preference for brain health, as is typically the case for parents. Based on how they handled the pandemic, it is possible that immunity may not be on the top of their list even now.
“However, it is hard to conclude based on the small numbers of participants from the US, being from different states and not representative of all US parents,” Tang explained.
Across all seven countries, respondents were also unanimous about toddler formulas that played a protective role in seasonal infections.
The majority of respondents (83.9%) answered positively, when asked whether it was important to them that a milk formula should help to prevent colds and flu in children.
These findings suggest that consumers are more than ever concerned about their children’s health and wellness, especially on the immunity.
This survey only involved key markets which Max Biocare has a presence in, and not all APAC countries were represented.
Max Biocare will be conducting another study on infant health and formula later this year.
The survey follows the launch of the company’s new range of infant and toddler formulas under the Little Ètoile Nutrition brand.