Natural Products Expo West

Aussie Bubs’ Essential Infant Formula makes ‘clean nutrition available for the masses,’ redesigns packaging for Americans

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: E. Crawford
Source: E. Crawford

Related tags Infant formula

With the launch of a lower-priced but still premium Essential Infant Formula at Natural Products Expo West last week, Australian-made infant and toddler nutrition company Aussie Bubs also revealed a new look designed to better appeal to the American consumer.

Between food safety recalls for infant formula in the US and rising concern about heavy metals and contaminants in high concentration in baby food and children’s products, Americans increasingly want high-quality products that are certified as clean and produced in facilities that go above and beyond basic requirements.

Aussie Bubs wants to meet this need with its line of premium infant and toddler formulas that are made to support different dietary needs – such as with its goat milk formulas for easier digestion and its 365-Day Grass Fed formulas, which the company explains have higher levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, protein, conjugated linoleic acid, beta-carotene and other vitamins than milk from grain-fed cows.

But higher quality ingredients often command a higher price point – putting them out of reach for some caregivers, acknowledged Chris Lotsaris, general manager of Bubs US.

“The goal for us is to make clean nutrition available for the masses. Obviously, sometimes, price is a barrier, but with the launch of Essential somebody can still have a product that is clean label, that is wholesome, that is 100% lactose carbohydrate source and that has probiotics and prebiotics – and we are making it affordable,” he said.

At a suggested retail price of $26.99 for a 20-ounce can, the Essential line is still a “few dollars” more than conventional formula, but it is a more accessible entry point than the company’s other products and still delivers the clean label certifications consumers increasingly want, including a Clean Label Project Purity Award and icon indicating it meets the First 1,000 Days Promise standards, he explained.

The lower price point is possible in part because the Essential line is not made with grass-fed milk, but from a business perspective the company was willing to offer the product for less in order to reach more caregivers, who often are the brand’s biggest advocates and best ambassadors.

Aussie Bubs is on track for full FDA approval, but currently is available under the agency’s enforcement discretion

The launch builds on the company’s existing portfolio of Goat Milk Infant Formula and 365-Day Grass Fed Infant Formula, which came to the US in 2022 during the national infant formula shortage during Operation Fly Formula.

Desperate to meet the country’s infant formula needs after a widespread food safety recall of existing US brands, FDA temporarily exercised enforcement discretion for certain infant formula products after determining that microbiological testing, labeling and inspection information meets nutrition and safety standards. While the initial enforcement discretion ended in January 2023, Aussie Bubs expressed an interest to remain in the US and is working with FDA​ to do so under an extended enforcement discretion timetable.

“We have done our protein efficiency ratio study, and that is going well. And we are currently in the process of doing the clinical trials … and once we have finished, we will present the data to FDA. All of that is on track and running as planned,” Jade Castro, US marketing head for Aussie Bubs, told FoodNavigator-USA at Natural Products Expo West.

New look better resonates with US consumers

As the company pursues full FDA approval for its infant formulas, it simultaneously finetuned its branding and packaging for the US market, which debuted at Expo West.

Castro explained, in the rush to bring the much-needed formulas to the US, Aussie Bubs shipped the product in its existing tins, which were designed for the Australian market. But over the past year the company spoke with thousands of US caregivers to understand what they did and did not like about the brand’s look, claims and packaging options.

“A lot of moms said the [original tin design] was a little childish,” with its photos of stuffed toys, and “while the product is for the baby, the mom was the one buying it and she wanted something that spoke to her a little better,” Castro said.

The company pivoted to a delicate line design of either a mother and baby cow or goat depending on the type of formula.

“We also have different colors. A lot of our feedback was that softer, calmer colors still indicated that it is a baby product, but also made [parents] feel calmer and gave the impression that the products were more natural – especially the [pale] green,” that is used for the 365-Day Grass Fed formula, Castro said. The company uses a pastel purple for the new Essentials line and a pale blue for the goat milk formula.

The company opted for bolder but still coordinating colors for its toddler formulas because they wanted caregivers to easily distinguish the goat and milk options but easily identify the difference between the infant and toddler milks.

Aussie Bubs also proudly displays on the top-third of the canister its Clean Label Project Purity Award, which indicates it was tested for more than 400 contaminants, heavy metals and ingredients of concern. On the back, it features a gold icon indicating it meets the First 1,000 Days Promise standards, which exceed basic containment standards.

The claims on the canisters speak to US caregivers top concerns. For the Essential line, this includes claims that the product is nutritionally complete and offers support for immunity, brain development and is derived from nature. Call outs on the side of the can include “essential vitamins & minerals,” “made with whole milk,” and “DHA + ARA.”

To further reassure caregivers of the product’s safety and legitimacy, Aussie Bubs includes a QR code on the bottom of each tin that consumers can scan to access a page that certifies the product was made in a facility owned and operated by the company. It also shows the batch number, expiration date and other information, Lotsaris said.

Bubs Essential Infant Formula will launch first in Walmart and on the retailer’s website in May. Over the summer the product will expand to additional retailers

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