Breastfeeding rates are on the rise. Clearly, there’s an industry that is not happy with this – the makers of infant formula. The industry thought of a way to make up for all the revenue it’s losing as the global breastfeeding rate continues to climb; toddler milk.
In the U.S. alone, 77% of new mothers were breastfeeding in 2010. In Hong Kong, “the percentage of new mothers opting to breastfeed jumped from less than 20% in 1992 to more than 80% in 2011.” The numbers of babies under six months who are breastfed exclusively is also on the rise worldwide. So what better way to make-up this revenue loss than convincing parents to spend a ridiculous amount of money on fortified toddler milk?
It’s just in the last five years that toddler milk has “become really popular,” Lauren Bandy, an analyst with Euromonitor International, tells Quartz. Now more than “one in three dollars spent on infant formula globally is going on toddler-specific products,” she said.
The milks are sold in cans that look like baby formula, often under similar brand names like Enfamil and Similac, but they do not fall under WHO and most local advertising bans because they target children one year old and up. Their marketing suggests they have the same benefits as drugs or supplements, but they generally are not subject to the same regulatory oversight as medicine.
The milks use popular buzzwords to make claims that have only been substantiated by industry-funded research. They use words like IQ, DHA and probiotics to try and convince parents they are providing something that is missing in the toddler diet. Agnes Marie Tarrant, an infant-feeding expert and associate professor at the University of Hong Kong sums it up when she explains, “All these things are made for neurotic parents.”
It’s obviously sketchy at best when an industry that is losing money is all of a sudden trying to convince parents of older children they have made a product they can’t live without. But as long as there are concerned parents, there will be industries preying on our ability to be suckered into buying super expensive products like these: “The marketing of these products is particularly eye-catching in Asia, where they’re sold as miracle foods, capable of helping young toddlers become over-achievers, by playing violins and lifting barbells.”
The fact is, toddlers don’t need fancy supplements if they are eating a healthy diet. A 24-count box of Enfagrow’s Next Step ‘Natural Milk‘ is $38.94. Depending on where you are in the country, two gallons of regular old cow’s milk will run you about $7.00. I know what I’ll be sticking with.