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<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 (~20 g/100 g median sugar at both time points). In the 2019 dataset, concentrated juice was added to 29% (n=253) of products and 18% (n=80) ‘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 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.
- comm child health
- infant feeding
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Twitter @DrAdaGarcia, @jdronquillo28
Contributors ALG conceived the study design and supervised data collection and analysis. LC collected data, undertook analyses and produced the first draft of the paper. JDR 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 version.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request.