Alternatives to traditional infant nutrition hit US market

By Beth Newhart contact

- Last updated on GMT

A plant-based toddler formula and a cultured, lab-grown breastmilk are trending in US infant nutrition this week, Pic: Getty/kuppa_rock
A plant-based toddler formula and a cultured, lab-grown breastmilk are trending in US infant nutrition this week, Pic: Getty/kuppa_rock

Related tags: Infant, Infant formula, Infant formula products, infant health, Infant nutrition, Formula milk

Market trends and unique consumer needs in infant nutrition have producers thinking outside the realms of tradition. New launches from Else Nutrition and Biomilq have recently hit the US, forming new categories.

Plant-based formula from Else

After seven years in development, Else Nutrition announced its first commercial product in the US this week - a plant-based toddler formula that is dairy-free and made with almonds, buckwheat and tapioca.

Else wants to fill a gap in the plant-based dairy alternatives market, which is mostly made up of products marketed to adults. The first Else SKU is a powdered formula designed for ages 12-36 months, and it will be followed by a line of whole-meal nutrition products for children ranging from infant to teens.

The founders of the startup self-describe as ‘infant nutrition veterans.’ Else is based out of Tel Aviv, Israel, and started trading on the Toronto stock exchange last June. The vegan, organic products are launching first in the US.

Hamutal Yitzhak, co-founder and CEO of Else Nutrition, said, “As a mother, I know how passionate parents are to ensure that their children get all the nutrients they need for fundamental growth and development.

“We are providing a solution for millions of parents worldwide who are looking to change the way they feed their kids by offering a clean, safe, and nutritious, plant-based formula. We’ve heard from thousands of parents worldwide that there’s a need for something else – a real viable alternative.”

The formula is free from dairy, soy and gluten, and made without hormones, antibiotics, palm oil and corn syrups. Else said it offers a full amino acid profile, and is a clean non-GMO source of protein, which meets all regulatory requirements.

This week Else announced an investment agreement with NewH2 Limited, a subsidiary of Health and Happiness (H&H) International Holdings Limited, for CAD $5.75m (US$4.34m). The funding will accelerate product development and launch in 2020.

The Else Nutrition brand will first debut at the Natural Product Expo West show in Anaheim, California, next month. After launching it will be available on Else’s website and Amazon.com.

Cultured breastmilk from Biomilq

A different alternative to formula looks to mimic the nutrition of breastmilk - with breastmilk. Biomilq, a new startup founded by two women from North Carolina, shared results last week of their technology that can produce breastmilk in a lab.

Leila Strickland, a cell biologist, and Michelle Egger, a food scientist, have been working to produce a cultured, human-milk product that’s nutritionally equivalent to breastmilk and cultivated under safe conditions.

“Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure healthy development in children. But exclusive breastfeeding is unrealistic for most and impossible for many—in fact, 84% of moms transition to dairy-based infant formula before the recommended six month exclusivity period,” ​Biomilq said.

Last week’s announcement said their recent product samples were found to contain the predominant protein and sugar components found in breastmilk. They said they are the first company to produce vital components of milk together within the same system using a process that is sterile from start to finish and free of all contamination.

While Biomilq is mastering the technology, they have not yet incorporated it into a commercial product. Strickland and Egger said they are eager to work with families, pediatricians and the breastfeeding and lactation community to develop potential products and bring cultured breastmilk to market.

“We believe parents (adoptive and biological), caregivers, and infants deserve more options in early-stage nutrition. We’re determined to give them just that and create a better world for future generations,” ​Biomilq said.

“While there is no replacement for breastmilk, we believe we can harness the power of science, technology, and nature to deliver comprehensive and sustainable infant nutrition.”

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