Is Holle Organic Baby Formula Better?

Many American mothers and caregivers have chosen Holle, a Swedish organic infant formula brand because the US organic market falls short, pointing fingers at the FDA and weak organic certification standards. But who is Holle and why do Americans buy their infant formula from overseas instead US organic brands?

Who is Holle?

Holle is an 80 year old Swedish baby food company that operates in conjunction with a German production line.  They make formula, baby cereals and jarred baby food, which is their focus according to their site: http://holle.ch  
Their commercial (you can see the size of the boxes if you're curious to buy)
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How do Holle Ingredients Stack Up?

First, let's start with what natural ingredients their formula *does* contain.  Their first ingredient listed is "skimmed milk", in which many other brands list oils, sugars and wheys. They list the milk as "from biodynamic farming (Demeter quality)".  What is Demeter quality?  What is biodynamic farming?

Demeter is a certified international farming standard with about 40 participating countries, like USDA organic standards but seemingly more strict, starting from processing all the way to packaging.  Biodynamic farming is an organic practice that is the root of Demeter certification that approaches organic farming in a holistic, sustainable way.  I could find only one other baby formula brand that has the Demeter quality milk which is BiobimLac 2 from http://www.joannusmolen.com so it doesn't look common that brands utilize this quality milk in their ingredients.

The second ingredient is organic whey which is typical in most formulas. These are both good signs of quality baby formula.

But does Holle pass the test of no-no ingredients?

Source

  • While Holle does claim that it does not have an added sweetener (there's a logo stating it on their site), maltodextrin is in fact a plant based sweetener. Their commercial actually states "no refined sugars".
  • Palm oil is also controversial as it has been said to create "soaps" in the baby's gut and have an adverse reaction regarding bone mass **. That said, the ingredients list has palm oil listed alongside rapeseed and sunflower oil so it does not look like the exclusive oil used.
  • One item that isn't shown is copper sulfate, which Holle does have and is a known allergen for some.*

Their claims:

  • No GMOs
  • No artificial flavors or colors
  • No preservatives
  • No refined sugars
  • Egg and gluten free
  • Made from 99% organically grown ingredients
  • Organic starch and maltodextrin derived from corn
  • The remaining 1% of ingredients are vitamins and minerals which are necessary for your baby’s development and are required by EU regulations

The full ingredient list in Stage 1 Holle Baby Formula:

Skimmed milk** (Germany), whey powder* partly demineralised, vegetable oils* (palm oil*, rapeseed oil*, sunflower oil*), maltodextrin*, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, sodium chloride, vitamin C, vitamin E, ferrous lactate, zinc sulphate, niacin, Calcium-D-pantothenate, copper sulphate, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, manganese sulphate, potassium iodate, folic acid, vitamin K, sodium selenate, vitamin D

*from organic farming
**from biodynamic farming (Demeter quality)


Overall, the US baby formulas all have some sort of controversial ingredient so it seems the standout positive is the type of milk used.

Parent Testimonials of Holle Baby Formula

So is it worth the price?  Some parents with colicky babies have seen a difference based on the online reviews and swear by it.  Other parents feel that it is better quality overall considering the lax USDA organic standards compared to international or European as a rule.  Here are some comments from parents:

Note: These are taken from other retail sites and I have no affiliation with any of the reviewers

Where to Buy Holle Baby Formula

If you are convinced it's worth it, at present there are only a few online places to buy this for US delivery which can be found here.


Less Expensive Baby's Only

If you cannot afford the price, some parents recommend Babys Only Organic Formula made in the US that is non GMO. The label says it's a toddler formula but it meets all standards on infant formula (they promote breastfeeding up to one year).


Sources:
* copper sulfate: http://www.inrfood.com/ingredients/1288
** Palm oil study summary (2004): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12728082