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  • Samantha Steadman

Nurturing Affordability: Retailers Embrace and Push For Changes In Price Regulations On Baby Formula

Updated: Apr 5

A recent and heartening trend has emerged among grocery stores across the nation - a commitment to making essential products more accessible for all families. The journey of parenthood comes with its own unique set of challenges, and providing nourishment for infants is undeniably a significant one. Government restrictions on retailers offering promotions or price reductions for baby formula are being fought against by the big name supermarkets who are taking a proactive stance in addressing the financial strain on parents by slashing prices, making changes to loyalty schemes and pushing for change in the current regulations. This recognition of the importance of ensuring the well-being of the youngest members of our society, signals a collective effort to prioritize the health and happiness of families across the board.

Iceland Foods managing director Richard Walker is calling on lawmakers to give retailers more freedom in the reduction in cost of baby formula, urging them to “strip away regulations which are currently making it harder for families to access more affordable formula.”[1]. Current regulations prevent retailers from offering promotions on infant milk products and the amendment of the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill could allow stores to sell baby formula in exchange for vouchers or loyalty points or promote discounted products in this category. Walker is urging for cross party support for this alteration, with Labour already on board previously stating that the current restrictions are “outdated and damaging.” Couple these restrictions with an investigation late last year by the Competition and Markets Authority found that prices for baby formula in the UK has risen by 25% over the past two years, with many branded suppliers often increasing prices more than input costs, and the landscape of baby formula products and the resulting effect on families is a bleak one indeed.[2]

Danone, the maker of popular brand Aptamil, cutting wholesale price of baby powder products by 7%, Iceland, along with Sainsburys, Asda and Tesco, are passing on this reduction to the customer by reducing the price of these products in store. A Sainsbury’s representative commented, “we are committed to lowering prices on the products our customers buy most often…we know January is an important time for customers to get the best value so we lowered our prices ahead of the supplier decrease.”[3]

Asda have gone one step further on this proactive approach to making baby formula more affordable for families, not only by reducing prices of Aptamil products but also allowing customers to use Asda Reward vouchers to pay for any baby formula product purchased in store. This decision to allow shoppers to use loyalty points on this product line goes against current regulations in place preventing retailers offering promotions on infant milk products.

Asda’s Chief Commerical Officer, Kris Comerford says on the move, “For many of Asda’s customers and families nationwide, we understand that buying baby formula is a vital necessity in their weekly shop, which is why we’re taking swift action to pass on falling manufacturing costs to customers…At the same time, we’ve decided to remove exclusions on using Asda Rewards vouchers to pay for baby formula. Whilst we respect the regulations in place regarding the sale of baby formula, we want to do everything we can to help families manage their budget and keep their family fed.”[4]

With retailers and brands making the commendable choice to lower prices on baby formula and urge the government to make a change to current restrictions on these products, these changes could have an undeniable positive impact in the lives of countless families through various stages of their journey.  The affordability of essential nourishment for infants allows parents to make choices bases on the well-being of their children, rather than any financial constraints. This move would not only be a savvy business decision, but a demonstration of empathy and responsibility by retailers showing that businesses can play a pivotal role in enhancing the quality of life for families. The journey of parenthood is undoubtedly a challenging one, but the ripple effect of a supportive retail environment can allow parents to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that quality baby formula is more accessible than before and allowing the adventure to be just a little more manageable.



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