In February 2002, Mead Johnson Nutritionals, a subsidiary of the Bristol-Myers Squibb, introduced a new baby formula in the U.S. market. The product, Enfamil Lipil, was the first infant formula approved for sale in the U.S. containing DHA and ARA.
Since the mid-1990s, Martek Biosciences Corp. has been marketing an algae derived nutritional supplement, which is licensed to baby formula manufacturers . The FDA has approved this DHA/ARA oil blend for use in infant formula. The blend makes up only a small percentage of the finished product, but its addition helps formula makers come closer to matching the profile of mothers’ milk fat.
Various research, including a study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development that was published in Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology in 2000, have shown that babies fed infant formula supplemented with DHA and ARA perform better on mental and visual acuity tests than babies fed formula without these supplements.
Infant formulas that contain DHA and ARA are expected to replace non-DHA formula, because the former is much closer to breast milk in its constituents. However, even though sales are on the rise, these formulas are expensive.
The baby food and beverage market is also witnessing action with addition of new nutritional ingredients and packaging advancements. With the current focus on childhood obesity, there is also for shelf stable, refrigerated and frozen products that are convenient and nutritious for infants.