Infant Formula – Alternative to Breastfeeding

For infants, mother’s own milk is the best source of nutrition since breast milk, as a biological fluid, has a variety of benefits including immune ontogeny, modulation of postnatal intestinal function, and brain development. As per recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. The American Academy of Pediatrucs also recommends breasfeeding for atleast first 12 months.

infant formula market

However, with growing female working population, breastfeeding  may not always be feasible despite the fact that breastfeeding is highly recommended. In such case, infant formula allows new mothers to help them out in this situation. Infant formula is an industrially manufactured substitute for breast milk for infant consumption. Infant formula is generally based on soymilk or cow’s milk. Infant formula majorly consists of all the necessary nutrients that are essential for the growth of infants including fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamins. These are generally fed to infants under twelve months of age for their growth and development. Infant formulas are available in three forms- powder, liquid, and read-to-feed. Among these three forms, powder is the least expensive which is mixed with water before feeding. Whereas, ready-to-feed is the most expensive form of infant formula which requires no mixing.

The figure below shows the market size of the global infant formula market for the year 2019 and 2025:

Infant Formula Market , Forecasts From 2019 to 2025, in US$ Billion

infant formula market

Source: Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence Analysis

According to the Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence analysis, the global infant formula market is projected to reach US$60.874 billion by the year 2025 from US$44.077 in the year 2019. The market is expected to witness a considerable compound annual growth rate during the forecast period, primarily due to the significant growth in the working female population in both developed and developing economies across the globe. Rising per capita income coupled with increasing urbanization and improvement in standard of living is increasing the adoption of convenient food products which is also increasing the consumption of infant formula among infants, thus positively impacting the market growth. Another factor that is augmenting the demand for infant formula across the globe is the rising incidence of lactation problems among women. 

According to the United Nations estimates, the world’s current population is projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. This increase in population will also drive the global demand for infant milk formula during the next five years, thus positively impacting the market growth. With growing consumer awareness, people are demanding more innovative infant milk formula packed with nutrients and minerals, especially variants with ingredients such as prebiotics and specific milk protein fractions. As such, infant formula manufacturers are investing heavily in R&D to diversify their product portfolio and maintain their market position. For example, global leader of infant formula maker Nestlé launched its own brand of A2-only baby formula in New Zealand and Australia. Danone announced its plans to develop a sheep milk-based infant formula in September 2019. In February 2020, Else Nutrition Holdings, a leading player of clean ingredients and plant-based nutrition products, launched its new plant-based toddler formula in the United States. This exclusively organic toddler formula is made with a proprietary formulation of almonds, buckwheat, and tapioca.

Increasing promotion of breastfeeding at a global level

Among the world’s regions, the World Health Organization (WHO) European region has the lowest rates of exclusive breastfeeding at the age of six months with approximately 25 percent. Since low rates and early cessation of breastfeeding have adverse health consequences for both mother and infant, the promotion of breasfeedng have become a public health priority. Famous mothers including politicians, models, and actresses have been continuously promoting breastfeeding on social media. Furthermore, governments as well as global organizations are taking various initiatives and introducing programs and campaigns to educate people about benefits of breastfeeding their babies at least till the age of six months.

Percent of Infants 0-5 Months of Age Exclusively Breastfed, by Region, 2019

infant formula market

Source: UNICEF

This is one of the major restraining factors for the growth of global infant formula market. Moreover, in middle- and low-income countries, majority of people have low income which further hampers the adoption of infant formula over inexpensive breastmilk. Another key restraint that is impacting the growth of global infant formula market is the declining birth rate in certain countries and/or regions.    

Market Segment Overview:

Global infant formula market has been segmented on the basis of formula type, form, distribution channel, and geography. On the basis of formula type, the infant formula market has been segmented as cow’s milk protein-based, soy-based, and protein hydrolysate. Cow’s milk protein-based account for the largest market share owing to people’s preference to feed their infants cow’s milk-based infant formula. Soy-based infant formula will witness a decent CAGR during the forecast period. On the basis of form, the classification of the infant formula market has been done as powdered, concentrated liquid, and ready-to-use. Powdered holds a noteworthy share in the global infant formula market since it is the least expensive of all of the three forms. On the basis of the distribution channel, the market has been segmented as online and offline. Geographically, the infant formula market segmentation has been done as North America, South America, Europe, Middle East and Africa (MEA), and Asia Pacific (APAC). Asia Paciifc holds the significant share in the global infant formula market throughout the forecast period on account of rising population with high birth-rates, supported by rising disposable incomes to purchase infant formula.  


Anjali Joshi is a senior market research analyst at Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence. She oversees a team of analysts and is known for the quality of market intelligence she delivers to the clients which range from start-ups and Non-profit Organizations to Fortune 500 companies. Anjali’s keen understanding of international business and market dynamics, coupled with her years of experience working in this industry, allows her to analyse current and future trends across both global and clients’ target markets and help them in making informed decisions.