Slovakia has one of the lowest birth rates in the world but the market for baby food has not only been affected by birth rates but also by economic conditions in the country. Slovakia is the second poorest country in the European region after Estonia however, the economy has been picking up since 2014. Consequently the market for baby food has expanded due to price increases and demand for more sophisticated products as indicated by the study, ‘The Baby Food Sector in Slovakia, 2018’.
Recent trends have revealed that per capita consumption of baby food in 2017 stood at a relatively low level to Europe’s general trend. All sectors of baby food in the country have seen value growth since 2011 but only milks and wet meals have experienced volume growth. The majority of milks sold in Slovakia are in powder form but now organic, fortified and natural baby food products are gaining traction. This comes as a result of growing concern among parents about the health and wellness of children especially after studies and researches that confirmed the suspicion that Eastern European nations were being supplied with inferior quality food compared to their western counterparts.
The Slovakian baby food and pediatric nutrition industry is led by Nutricia which is part of the Spanish company DANONE. Its products range from milk formula to nutrition for babies with special needs and breastfeeding mothers. Nutricia captures more than one-third of the market. Its unique methods of not only exploring the fields of baby food but also testing and incorporating medical science gives it an edge over others. Even in 2018 it continues its legacy of research and still has many ongoing studies relating to fermentation of milk, human milk studies and breastfeeding just to name a few.
Nestlé Slovensko s.r.o. follows as the next big player with nearly one-fifth market share. The company distributes nutrition, health and wellness packaged products and offers baby foods under the Cerelac, Gerber, Gerber Graduates, NaturNes, and Nestum brands. HiPP Slovakia and Hero Group are also significant players that individually constitute around one-tenth of the market. HiPP is renowned for its legacy of organic products ranging for baby drinks to wet meals for babies even providing options for flavors. On the other hand Hero Group is inspired by homemade food and aims for the healthiest output by using gentle production methods and avoiding artificial preservatives. It even has subsidiaries which are reputed in various countries for example; Sunar is an infant milk brand famous among Slovakian babies.
Slovakia is expected to be one of the many regions where better food standards will prevail. Baby food in the country is already undergoing a radical transformation with many market leaders moving towards transparent and organic options. The Slovakian baby food sector appears to be dominated by foreign giants that are reputed across Europe. While locally manufactured products account for a very small proportion of total consumption, multinational imports dominate the market evident by the fact that in 2017, DANONE, Nestle, HiPP and Hero jointly accounted for around nine-tenth of overall value sales.
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Ankur Gupta, Head Marketing & Communications