Wilmington,Del.-The target consumers of commercially-available baby food range from infants (babies aged 6 to 12 months) to toddlers (children up to three years old). Baby food is available in various flavors and in both solid and liquid form. Modern-day time constraints have reduced the use of homemade baby food in both developed as well as developing nations. While U.S. and Europe hold a major share of the global baby food market, emerging economies such as China, India, Brazil, Russia, and Romania also represent a high growth rate.

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The baby food market is getting a big boost from the increasing awareness about the role it plays in meeting the nutritional needs of infants and toddlers. The major challenges for the baby food industry are low birth rates, static market conditions in developed countries, and milk intolerance in babies. However, opportunities for the baby food market is immense, as there is large untapped market in developing economies and as evolving food technology and new product developments are expected to attract more customers in future.

The global baby food market is expected to be worth US$37.6 billion by 2014, growing at an estimated CAGR of 5.0% from 2009 to 2014. Bottled baby food forms the largest market segment; and is expected to reach US$9.9 billion by 2014 at a CAGR of 4.9% for the same period. The segment with the highest growth potential is expected to be frozen baby food followed by bottled baby food products and baby cereals. Nestlé SA is the market leader in the global baby food products market. The other key market players are H.J. Heinz, Bristol-Myers Squibb, DANONE and Hero.

The major segments in the baby food product market are baby cereals, bottled baby foods, frozen baby foods, baby snacks and soups. Companies are focusing mainly on developing easily digestible and competitively priced fortified baby food. Evolving food technologies are enabling the market players to offer quality products with enhanced benefits like optimum nutrients content for babies. The growth in the baby food market is primarily due to the increasing demand from the Asian countries.

The accompanying table indicates the estimated market size of baby food products in 2009. The market for bottled baby foods is expected to enjoy the maximum market share followed by the baby cereals. The patent analysis of baby food products indicates that maximum number of patents has been registered for bottled baby food, which accounts for 70% of the total number of patents registered. Baby cereals is second with 16%, followed by baby snacks with 12% of the total patents registered. Geography-wise, the U.S. accounts for 58% of the total patents registered in baby food products followed by Europe with 30%.

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