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Infant nutrition

For 60% of European infants - a total of three million children - infant formula feeding starts before six months of age.

A healthy start in life: Infant and Young Child Nutrition

  • Nutrition in early infancy and childhood is crucial in determining a child’s healthy development, and impacts health later in life. 
  • Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for babies, as it contains the perfect balance of nutrients, hormones and antibodies. 
  • However, in some cases mothers are unable to, or choose not to breast feed. 
  • For these infants, and for older infants and young children, SNE members are dedicated to ensuring an optimum start with the right products – and services.

5.4 million babies are born in the EU annually

  • Products designed to support infant and young child nutrition are manufactured under unique and strict controls designed to meet very high standards of safety and quality, and play a valuable role in helping to resolve nutritional inequalities across Europe.
  • Around 70% of infants will be fed infant formula at some point before the age of 6 months, and from 6-12 months around 90% of infants in the EU receive specialised complementary foods.
  • These products are specifically designed to provide these vulnerable consumers with the right vitamins and minerals to ensure a balanced diet and give each child the right to a lifetime of good health.
  • They provide parents with a convenient and safe way to ensure their child gets the nutrients they need during this important developmental phase.

What we do

SNE members manufacture products that are carefully tailored to meet the very specific nutritional requirements of infants and young children aged 0-36 months, meeting strict safety and quality standards based on science. SNE members have a reputation of excellence built on three pillars:

  • Safety: We have rigorous controls and procedures in place, with up to 600 tests for some products, to ensure that our products meet top quality standards.
  • Research: Our products are grounded in comprehensive research which is performed in close collaboration with external scientists, doctors and universities.
  • Services: We do not stop at product development, our members also support mothers with carelines that offer help in times of need, as well as educational materials for healthcare professionals such as doctors and midwives.

A closer look at our products

SNE members produce a range of products including Infant Formula, Follow-on Formula, and Young Child Formula, and Processed Cereal-Based Foods: 

  • Infant formula is intended to replace breast milk when mothers cannot or choose not to breastfeed. It is the only suitable alternative for babies in good health aged 0-6 months.
  • Complementary foods (so-called processed cereal-based foods and baby foods for infants and young children) help in the move from a liquid diet based on breast milk or infant formula, to one which includes solid foods in a wide range of tastes and textures. These foods are formulated specifically to limit the amount of salt, saturated fats and sugar, and ensure the correct amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins and minerals for this age group.
  • Follow-on formula has been developed to meet the nutritional needs of older infants (over 6 months) and contains added vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin D and iron. Follow-on formula should only be used as part of a mixed weaning diet and not as a breast milk substitute before six months.
  • Young-child formula (also known as ‘milk-based drinks for young children’, ‘toddler milks’ or ‘growing up milks’) are designed to meet the needs of young children aged 1-3 years as part of a mixed diet based on family foods. Like follow-on formula, they should not be used as a breast milk substitute before six months.



About 5% of turnover is invested in research:

the food industry average is 0,53%

The annual turnover of the specialised nutrition industry across the European Union (including exports) is around €24bn


The specialised nutrition industry is a world leader:

each year, exports total around €8bn