Bubs Australia – from a Sydney kitchen to global supermarket shelves

Founded in 2006 in a Sydney kitchen, Bubs Australia is creating a global generation of happy, healthy babies through its range of premium organic infant nutrition products. 

Bubs Australia is on a mission to give the next generation the best start in life. 

The company offers a premium range of infant nutrition products for key consumption occasions and dietary preferences. Its Aussie-made formulas, toddler milks, organic baby foods and snacks cater to a range of developmental stages. 

‘Our clean-label nutritional products provide the foundation for a lifestyle of good eating habits,’ says Bubs Australia founder and CEO Kristy Carr. ‘We hope they can alleviate the stress experienced by so many parents when trying to find quality sources of nutrition for their bubs.’ 

From a Sydney kitchen to the world 

The Bubs Australia story begins in a kitchen on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. A busy mother-of-three, Carr saw a gap in the market for premium, organic baby food. 

Today, Bubs Australia feeds infants and toddlers across 10 markets. It exports to China, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and the US. Established operations in the world’s top 2 infant formula markets – China and the US – cover sales, marketing and distribution on the ground. 

It’s an extraordinary success story – one that was rewarded with the top honour at the 60th Australian Export Awards. Minister for Trade and Tourism Don Farrell was delighted to award Bubs Australia the Australian Exporter of the Year at this year’s ceremony. He congratulated Bubs Australia on being ‘one of Australia’s most successful and in-demand exporters of infant nutrition products.’ 

A shifting export strategy 

Bubs Australia’s export strategy has shifted over the past year in response to changing opportunities. 

‘Across our China channel, we consolidated our relationship with Australia’s leading Daigou distributor,’ says Carr. ‘This brought brand and channel together to facilitate and rapidly accelerate our ability to reach Chinese consumers.’ 

Bubs Australia also stepped up its market entry and expansion strategy in the US. It leveraged more than 2 years of research and development into premium infant formulas, as well as established customer relationships and distribution networks.

FDA approval for Bubs Australia’s infant formulas 

In May 2022, Bubs Australia secured approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to import a number of its infant formula products into the US to help relieve national supply shortages. 

Bubs Australia’s application was one of the first to be filed with the US authorities. The company became one of the first international manufacturers to receive approval. 

The approval saw the transportation of at least 1.25 million tins of Bubs infant formula – equal to 27.5 million bottles – to the US as part of the Biden Administration’s “Operation Fly Formula”. 

US President Joe Biden spruiked the deal on X (formerly Twitter), garnering worldwide exposure for Bubs Australia’s efforts to help ease the national shortfall. It also alleviated stress for American families nationwide by providing access to safe infant formula. 

The approval was backed up by a swift entry into US e-commerce marketplaces. Bubs Australia quickly secured contracts with Walmart.com, Amazon.com and Thrive Market. Bricks-and-mortar retailers followed, with its products hitting more than 10,000 retail outlets across the country. 

‘Obtaining US FDA approval for infant formula importation was an Australian and category first,’ says Carr proudly. 

‘Bubs demonstrated integrated supply chain security. This included full traceability and tight manufacturing control at our FDA-registered facility in Australia. We were then able to double our capacity to meet US demand without impacting existing market supply.’ 

Austrade instrumental to growth

Finding the right strategic partners to work with early on in its export journey has been an important factor in Bubs Australia’s success. 

‘When you find the right partners that understand and believe in your vision, it makes the world of difference,’ says Carr. ‘This comes from doing your homework, working with like-minded organisations such as Austrade, and trusting in your instincts.’ 

Carr highlights that Austrade and Investment NSW have been ‘instrumental’ to the company’s growth. 

Austrade has worked closely with Bubs Australia for some time, helping the company to diversify as it navigated the twin challenges of the pandemic and difficult global trading conditions. This included providing the necessary introductions, especially in the early days of the Bubs Australia market entry strategy. 

The support was important in the research phase, particularly for Southeast Asian markets - including Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia. Most recently, Austrade’s support was crucial to the development of Bubs Australia’s market entry strategy for the US.

Austrade provided Bubs with information and advice on:

  • Market opportunities
  • Product category breakdowns
  • Routes to market, including retailers with the largest market share
  • Bricks-and-mortar vs e-commerce sales channels
  • Regulatory environments
  • Whether one market could potentially serve as an entry point into other markets. 

Australian Export Awards showcasing homegrown innovation 

For Carr, being announced as the Australian Exporter of the Year reflects the hard work and determination of her team. 

‘The agility and flexibility of the team to quickly take on new export opportunities has been the key to our success. It’s great to see our team recognised and rewarded for that,’ she says. 

Carr would encourage other exporters to get involved in the awards. ‘They are a great way to showcase our homegrown innovation and expertise on the world stage,’ she says. 

‘They can also provide incredible opportunities for further growth and expansion into overseas markets.’

Related stories