January 27, 2021 12 min read
Organic formulas are on the rise. Particularly European organic baby formulas are gaining popularity overseas, especially in the US and Canada. The two top brands that most people know are HiPP and Holle, both very big players in the organic formulas market with many years of experience. But recently, in 2019, a brand new organic formula brand has surfaced. Loulouka formula is a Swiss-made organic baby formula with headquarters in the Netherlands. So far, so good. But you may wonder what sets this company apart from the other strong competitors on the market? What makes Loulouka stand out? Keep reading to find out!
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Loulouka was founded by Peter, Christiaan and Michael, three men with a vision: Creating the best possible infant formula with the finest ingredients, to give babies the best start into life1. Each one with years of experience in the field first came together in 2016 and started developing a baby formula according to their vision. This took them many years of research and hard work, and finally, Loulouka was created in 2019, a brand and product which they stand behind one hundred percent.
Loulouka is an organic baby formula made with ingredients sourced from Switzerland under European Union certified organic standards and the formula is produced there as well2. Therefore, the raw materials don't travel far and are processed right in the country where they are farmed, remaining in the highest possible quality without being exposed to diverse transport conditions.
The definition of organic farming as per the European Parliament is as follows: "Organic production means a sustainable agricultural system respecting the environment and animal welfare, but also includes all other stages of the food supply chain."3 This means that the regulations do not only affect farming but the whole farm management, food processing, production and labeling as well. The regulations that the European Union lays out ensure practices that are better for the animals and environment than in regular farming, e.g. through the prohibition of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers as well as GMOs, and support of a high level of biodiversity and ecological balance4. The preservation of natural resources is encouraged through rules for responsible use and crop rotation. A set of regulations for the well-being of animals includes very strict limits for antibiotics, requirements for livestock to be held in a free-range, open-air environment, the use of organic feed material and species-appropriate animal husbandry practices.
At least 95% of the agricultural ingredients of processed foods must stem from organic production in order for a finished product to be able to hold the EU organic logo5.
The EU has strict regulations that all European baby formula manufacturers must follow as to which ingredients are not allowed in infant and follow-on formula, as well as which ingredients must be included for a balanced nutrition and healthy development of babies.
These regulations include6:
Loulouka dairy cattle are treated with care and respect. The cows from organic Swiss farming roam about wide grasslands and are fed primarily with natural grass and hay, which is farmed right there in Switzerland as well2. The country actually has one of the strictest legislation concerning animal welfare in farming, making sure that all farm animals are healthy, treated with respect and have species-appropriate living conditions7. Quality regulations ensure that all parts of the production cycle are safe and sanitary and that the cattle, dairy and also the environment are respected. This way you can be sure that Loulouka organic formula contains only the most nutritious, healthy and highest quality milk, striving to provide the very best for your baby.
Most Swiss farms are family-run operations with small-scale production. Big corporation owned farms are very rare in Switzerland. The average farmer has 26 animals8. This means that they can pay personal attention to every individual animal and grant them the time needed for proper care. Most farmers know all their cows by name. You can read up more about Swiss farms and agricultural standards in our article about Swiss Milk vs. Standard Organic Milk.
Because formula brands strive to create a product that is as close to human breast milk as possible, vegetable oils are used as ingredients to imitate the fatty acid profile9. Among rapeseed and sunflower oil, one of the most used vegetable oils in organic formula is palm oil. However, in the past years, palm oil has gotten an increasingly worse reputation. As it is comparably cheap and easy to source and can be used for all kinds of products ranging from food to beauty items, many manufacturers include it in their products. This has lead to vast deforestation and exploitation of land to make room for palm plantations10. Where most other baby formula manufacturers resort to palm oil (however for organic brands it comes from sustainable production), Loulouka uses coconut oil, making a more sustainable and environmentally conscious choice of ingredients 2.
Maltodextrin is a carbohydrate that is included in Loulouka stage 2 and stage 3 as an energy source next to lactose. It consists of starches that are broken down through a natural process, therefore making it less complex in structure and more easily digestible than starch11. It acts as a thickener, but also as an energy source. Because maltodextrin is more complex than lactose it takes longer to break down and therefore releases energy more slowly, as a result, some babies may feel satisfied for longer amounts of time.
Lecithin is an emulsifier that is a source of essential fatty acids and choline (a nutrient that supports various bodily functions)12. Many formula brands use lecithin derived from soy, specifically soybean oil. Soy lecithin is cheaper, however, there are multiple problems with soy (especially in baby formula), as it is an allergen and often genetically modified. Therefore the use of lecithin derived from sunflower oil makes the formula much safer and more appropriate, as sunflowers are usually organic, not modified and allergies are very rare. Of course, the purest ingredient choice is best when it comes to baby formula and the health of babies, and therefore Loulouka contains sunflower lecithin.
The formula does not contain any soy. Soy has gotten an increasingly bad reputation in baby formula over the last years and is now being avoided by many producers. This is due to the levels of isoflavones in soy. Isoflavones are a group of molecules that can be found in certain food items such as beans and legumes. The ones in soy are called phytoestrogens because they are similar in structure to the female hormone estrogen13. They can act similarly in the human body as estrogen does. Babies go through developmental stages that are sensitive to estrogen, and therefore there has been some concern as to the safety of soy in infant formula. Even though there has been no conclusive evidence of negative effects that isoflavones may have on infants, to be on the safe side many baby formula companies now refrain from the use of soy in their formula for a healthier product.
Loulouka's European baby formula contains all ingredients that your baby needs for healthy development. It comes in three stages that are adapted to your baby's age: Stage 1 for newborns up to 6 months, stage 2 after the 6th month (adjusted to the age of starting to feed solid baby food), and stage 3 after the 10th month. All stages are lactose-based, meaning the main energy source is cow's milk lactose. Specifically, skimmed cow's milk from Swiss organic production. In Loulouka stage 1, lactose is the only energy source, whereas the follow-on milks include age-appropriate amounts of maltodextrin as well. Furthermore, the levels of vitamins and minerals are adjusted appropriately for every formula stage.
With various options on the market, finding the right organic formula for your little one can be difficult. Often we are asked what differentiates the certified organic European baby formula brands we sell and which option may be best. We would like to support you in your decision as best as we can and supply you with all the information you need to make an educated choice. Therefore, for this article, we have chosen to compare Loulouka to the popular German baby formula and baby food manufacturer HiPP.
HiPP has decades of experience in the sector, as the company has been on the market for more than 50 years, producing baby formula and baby food. Loulouka formula on the other hand is new on the market, but gaining popularity quickly. Here is a detailed guide of Loulouka vs HiPP - explaining all the main differences between the two European organic baby formula brands, so you get all the information you need to make sure you make a good choice.
Both HiPP and Loulouka formula are European Union certified organic. Therefore they both follow the same strict guidelines for organic production. Loulouka formula adheres to the strict Swiss animal welfare act as well. This is more detailed and has more regulations than in Germany. HiPP formula on the other hand has its own organic label which all their products carry. The HiPP Bio certification ensures the quality of the products through completely disallowing pesticides or herbicides that may contaminate crops through the air, the soil, or from the neighboring fields14. It is complementary to the EU organic label, which bans the direct use of pesticides or herbicides in cultivation, however not those that may contaminate crops through the air or soil, and therefore allows for very small levels of pesticides.
Both brands produce organic cows milk formula. The milk supplies important protein and calcium for babies, and lactose (milk sugar) serves as a source of energy. Lactose is the only sugar contained in both formulas, there are no other added sugars. Because dairy in its original form is not yet suitable for the sensitive organism of babies and young children, it is modified at key points. First, the milk is reduced in protein, then it is supplemented with lactose or other carbohydrates, with whey protein, high-quality vegetable oils, vitamins and minerals in such a way that the end product comes as close as possible to the composition of human breast milk.
Loulouka baby formula exclusively contains dairy from Swiss organic agriculture. The Swiss dairy standard is one of the best in the world and Swiss dairy products are known worldwide to be of high quality. This is due to the strict regulations that Switzerland has for farming and animal welfare, and that most farms are family-run operations with small-scale production. Swiss cows graze on wide, green pastures and are fed primarily with natural coarse fodder from the region, such as grass and hay2.
The milk in HiPP formula is sourced from farms in Germany that follow the strict guidelines for organic production. The dairy cattle are exclusively being fed on natural fodder such as grass, hay and grain15. This fodder is not allowed to contain any genetically modified ingredients, antibiotics or performance enhancers. This guarantees the best possible quality of the milk. The living standards for their dairy cattle furthermore must follow strict guidelines for species-appropriate animal husbandry, such as plenty of freedom for movement, large stalls and sufficient natural light for animal health16.
In a nutshell, for their formula, both brands use high-quality organic dairy from cows fed with natural fodder.
Both produce milk-based infant formulas, in which the main carbohydrate and therefore the main source of energy is lactose. No other forms of carbohydrates are added in the Dutch and UK versions of HiPP formula. Only HiPP German contains starch as a source of energy and as a thickening agent in stages later than PRE. Loulouka formula exclusively contains lactose in stage 1 and adds maltodextrin as a further source of energy in stages 2 and 3.
Palm oil, among other vegetable oils, is used in baby formula to mimic the fatty acid profile of human breast milk9. It is a popular choice because it is effective and easy to source and use, and because palm oil is the vegetable oil with the highest content of palmitic acid. Palmitic acid is the predominant fatty acid in breast milk. However, over the last years palm oil has gotten an increasingly negative reputation due to excessive deforestation.
As mentioned before, Loulouka baby formula does not contain any palm oil and uses coconut oil (of course organic) instead, therefore making a choice to differentiate themselves from other manufacturers of baby formulas. Through using coconut oil they make a choice for a more sustainable option of essential fatty acids. However, coconut cultivation requires far more land than palm oil crops.
HiPP formula does contain palm oil, however from sustainable production. They source their organic palm oil from Ecuador and Colombia17. The land had previously been used as cattle pastures, therefore no rain forest has been cleared for these plantations. Furthermore, the crops are not monocultures (monoculture = type of farming where only one crop is grown in an area) and no chemical sprays are being used.
DHA is an omega 3 fatty acid that is included in all European baby formulas. Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid that next to Omega 6, can play an important role in mental and physical development of infants, especially brain and eye development, and it's also found in human breast milk18.
The current compositional requirements for infant formula in the EU include the addition of DHA (Omega 3)6, therefore both formulas contain the omega 3 fatty acid DHA derived from fish oil.
Probiotics are friendly bacteria that help your baby with digestion and fighting infections19. Prebiotics are fibers that serve as food for probiotics, promoting their growth. Pro and prebiotics are contained in breast milk and added in some baby formulas because newborns have a sterile gastrointestinal system, meaning at the start they have no bacteria at all in their intestines. They do build it up over time themselves, however, to speed up the process and supply them with this helpful bacteria early on, probiotics are added into some baby formula.
HiPP German formula contains the natural probiotic Lactobacillus fermentum hereditum® that was originally derived from human breast milk, and all HiPP formulas contain prebiotics galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) derived from lactose20.
Loulouka formula contains GOS prebiotics as well to promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Loulouka does not contain any probiotics. However, it is always possible to supplement them if desired.
Loulouka, HiPP UK and Dutch consist of stage 1, stage 2 and stage 3. HiPP German on the other hand has a "pre" formula as well. Stage 1 and pre are always adjusted for the newborns and the early stages of life. All stages are always adjusted in nutrient composition for your baby's healthy growth and development.
Loulouka and HiPP definitely both contain all the right ingredients and are safe and healthy choices for organic European formulas. Both contain all essential vitamins and minerals in appropriate amounts for your baby's healthy growth and development; such as vitamins a, c, b, iron, calcium and potassium. Loulouka, as well as all HiPP formulas, come in different stages that are adjusted appropriately in nutrient content to the stage of life of your baby. Both brands are EU certified organic, meaning all ingredients are organic and production processes follow strict regulations as well.
Loulouka differentiates itself through the high animal welfare standard in Switzerland. Further, If you are looking for a baby formula without palm oil, Loulouka is a great choice. In contrast, HiPP is a trusted baby formula brands with decades of experience in this field. They have perfected the art of mimicking the composition of human breast milk and use the probiotic lactobacillus fermentum hereditum® originally derived from breast milk. Both formulas use high-quality organic ingredients. We think that Loulouka did a great job at creating a premium baby formula.
We hope this article helps you decide on which may be the best organic baby formula for your little one's organic start. If you need further guidance, please contact our customer support team. We are happy to help! Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter so you don't miss all the newest information about Loulouka and HiPP.
Please be aware that this information is based on general trends evidenced in babies, it is in no way medical advice. Your doctor should be your first source of information and advice when considering any changes with your child’s formula, and when choosing your child’s formula. Always consult your pediatrician prior to making any decisions about your child’s diet or if you notice any changes in your child.
1 Loulouka: About Us (https://loulouka.nl/en/about-us/)
2 Loulouka: Our Quality (https://loulouka.nl/en/#quality_anchor)
3European Parliament: The EU's Organic Food Market (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/society/20180404STO00909/the-eu-s-organic-food-market-facts-and-rules-infographic)
4 Organics at a Glance - European Commission (https://ec.europa.eu/info/food-farming-fisheries/farming/organic-farming/organics-glance_en)
5 The Organic Logo (https://ec.europa.eu/info/food-farming-fisheries/farming/organic-farming/organic-logo_en)
6 European Parliament: Supplementing Regulation (EU) No 609/2013 as regards the specific compositional and information requirements for infant formula and follow-on formula (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX%3A32016R0127)
7 Swiss Animal Protection Ordenance (https://www.animallaw.info/statute/switzerland-cruelty-swiss-animal-protection-ordinance)
8The Economic Importance and the Benefits of Swiss Milk (https://api.swissmilk.ch/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/brochure-economic-importance-benefits-swiss-milk-2019-en.pdf)
9 Lipids for infant formulas (https://www.ocl-journal.org/articles/ocl/pdf/2018/03/ocl180029s.pdf)
10 Palm Oil - Deforestation for Everyday Products (https://www.rainforest-rescue.org/topics/palm-oil)
12What is Sunflower Lecithin? (https://maxinesheavenly.com/blogs/maxines-heavenly/what-is-sunflowerlecithin#:~:text=Sunflower%20lecithin%20is%20made%20by,used%20to%20make%20olive%20oil.)
13Soy Infant Formula (https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/sya-soy-formula/index.cfm)
14 Das HiPP Bio Siegel (https://www.hipp.de/ueber-hipp/bio-qualitaet-nachhaltigkeit/nachhaltige-bio-produkte/das-hipp-bio-siegel/)
15 Woher stammt die Bio Milch für HiPP Bio Milchnahrung? (https://www.hipp.de/ueber-hipp/bio-qualitaet-nachhaltigkeit/nachhaltige-bio-produkte/bio-milch/#:~:text=Woher%20stammt%20die%20Bio%20Milch,der%20unsere%20n%C3%A4hrstoffreiche%20Milch%20entsteht)
16 Artgerechte Tierhaltung (https://www.hipp.de/ueber-hipp/bio-qualitaet-nachhaltigkeit/nachhaltige-bio-produkte/artgerechte-tierhaltung/)
17Bio Palmöl (https://www.hipp.de/ueber-hipp/zutaten-entdecker/palmoel/#c32034)
18 HiPP: New Recipe (https://www.hipp.de/milchnahrung/hipp-milk-formula-new-recipe/#:~:text=DHA%20%E2%80%93%20which%20stands%20for%20docosahexaenoic,the%20form%20of%20fish%20oil.)
19Probiotics: What You Need To Know (https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics-what-you-need-to-know)
20 Special features of HiPP infant milk (https://hcp.hipp.com/products/hipp-milk-formula/good-to-know/special-features-of-hipp-infant-milk/#:~:text=HiPP%20milk%20formula%20contain%20the,component%20of%20breast%20milk%20oligosaccharides.)
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