The maker of Similac Advance, the top commercial baby formula brand in the United States, says it will begin selling the first mainstream baby formula made without genetically altered ingredients by the end of the month at Target.
Similac’s maker, the global health care company Abbott, said it would first offer a “non-G.M.O.” version of its best-selling Similac Advance, followed by a non-G.M.O. version of Similac Sensitive. Depending on sales, Abbott may offer other formulas free of such ingredients.
Abbott will join a growing number of companies offering popular products without genetically modified organisms. Consumer demand for such products has been growing, despite a concerted and expensive effort by trade groups representing major food manufacturers and the biotech industry to convince them that genetically altered ingredients are not harmful to human health.
“We listen to moms and dads, and they’ve told us they want a non-G.M.O. option,” said Chris Calamari, general manager of Abbott’s pediatric nutrition business. “We want to make sure we meet the desires of parents.”
A new online study of 1,829 adults selected by Fluent, a consumer marketing and advertising firm, found that nearly one in five of them said they preferred non-G.M.O. products.
“The preference for non-G.M.O. products in particular is more pronounced amongst shoppers with higher household incomes and with shoppers based in the Northeast,” said Matt Conlin of Fluent.
Most mainstream baby formula is made from various corn and soy derivatives, and more than 90 percent of those crops in America are grown from genetically altered seeds.
Over the last few years, consumers have petitioned Abbott and other big makers of infant formula to remove genetically altered ingredients.
That movement, Mr. Calamari said, had nothing to do with the introduction of non-G.M.O. versions of Similac, though. Rather, he said, the company’s own research had prompted the decision. “Over one-third of consumers say it would have appeal to them and give them peace of mind,” he said.
As consumer interest in improving health through nutrition has grown, Abbott has also begun moving to sell more of its products beyond niche audiences. For instance, the company recently began marketing Pedialyte, an oral electrolyte solution that has long been recommended for sick children by pediatricians, to adults.
“We’ve known that we always had an underground movement of adults who used it for various purposes,” said Lindsy Delco, a spokeswoman for Abbott. “We recently started digging into that and found that since 2012, one-third of our sales” are for adult use.
Abbott already has a G.M.O.-free formula in Similac Organic. (By law, organic products cannot contain genetically altered ingredients.) But the company said its research showed that parents wanted a G.M.O.-free version of the original Similac Advance, which was formulated to be more similar to breast milk than Similac Organic.
In the 52 weeks that ended March 28, sales of all baby formulas totaled just over $4 billion in the United States, according to the market research company Nielsen.
Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute, an organic advocacy and research group, said he was pleased that a major baby formula company would offer a G.M.O.-free product.
“Since formula is really the only thing infants eat for some time,” he said, parents are concerned about feeding them “products that are largely made from G.M.O. ingredients.”
Written by Stephanie Strom for The New York Times, May 25, 2015.
FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U. S. C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www. law. cornell. edu/uscode/17/107. shtml“