0333 321 3021


Why are some parents feeling the need to take out loans to pay for baby formula?

17 Jan 2024 - 16:30 by josephine.mcmeeking

By Anna Tate 

The cost of living crisis is now well underway and has now impacting all communities across Greater Manchester. Unfortunately, the longer a crisis exists the more normalized it becomes. However, the recent headlines that some families have been forced to access loans to pay for baby formula and baby milk for their very young children is and continues to be shocking.

In August 2023, it was announced that the supermarket chain Iceland would be cutting the price of baby formula sold in all their shops. Iceland has said that this decision was a direct response to reports that some families are no longer able to afford baby milk or formula due to rising household costs. The recent Food Foundation study emphasizes, that 80% of 18-35 year olds with children under one year old were concerned that supermarkets were not doing enough to tackle this issue.

Reports suggest that some families are feeling forced to make the decision to feed their infant children baby milk or formula less often or use watered down formula due to cost. First Steps Nutrition report found the cost of baby formula had increased between 24-45% in the last two years. This increased cost coincided with a spike in reported shop lifting of baby formula, which resulted in increased security measures in many supermarkets.

Iceland is challenging the British government on the rule that supermarkets, whilst entitled to reduce the costs of their products, are bound by current legislation which states that supermarkets are not permitted to publicise the reduction in the cost of baby formula. This is due to advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO), which recommends that children under six months old should exclusively receive breast milk as their main source of food and nutrition. However, there are many reasons why women cannot breastfeed including physical and mental health issues of both mother and baby. Additionally, a lack of support means it is not always possible to breastfeed. Baby formula is an essential choice for some families.

Several major supermarket chains, including Tesco, Sainsbury's, and Asda, have now joined in and lowered the price of a popular brand of baby formula. This was made possible by a reduction in the manufacturing cost by Danone, which allowed for direct cost savings to be passed down to consumers. This is positive news, demonstrating that large businesses like supermarkets are attentive to the needs of the communities they serve, despite their significant annual profits amid a cost of living crisis. However, it should be noted that supermarkets like Asda have only recently announced their acceptance of healthy start vouchers for baby formula payment. Unfortunately, the rising costs mean that these vouchers no longer cover the complete expense. As a result, campaigners are urging the government to intervene and address the escalating costs of baby formula to prevent very young children from experiencing food poverty. Regrettably, it may already be too late.

Shared Topic Areas: 
josephine.mcmeeking's picture