Holle vs. Loulouka Formula: An Unbiased Comparison
In this formula face-off, two European titans battle it out. To the victor go the spoils!
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Holle baby formulas are one the best-selling and most popular formulas on the market, especially Holle Stage 1. Loulouka is relatively new to the baby formula market, introduced in 2016, and is quickly gaining traction as a more affordable baby formula option with an excellent list of ingredients and nutritional profile.
But which is the best baby formula for your family?
We tested both options and pulled together the data on ingredients, nutrition, farming and manufacturing practices, infant acceptance and tolerance, sensitivity, and pricing.
In combination with our own reviews of the two products and our summary of parent reviews, we hope this helps you decide whether Holle or Loulouka is the better option for your child!
What makes us unbiased? We do not manufacture, distribute, or sell baby formulas. For that reason, we have no allegiance to any manufacturer and we don't need to worry about offending Holle or Loulouka with our honest opinions!
Holle vs Loulouka: Overall Conclusions
On Reddit they say tl;dr or "too long; didn't read" - in other words, save me the time and just give me the results!
The overall result is that Loulouka is generally better than Holle in terms of price, ingredients, and nutrition.
However, Holle is better than Loulouka in terms of ingredient sourcing, animal welfare, and sustainability.
Here's what it boils down to:
✔️ Loulouka Formula is better for parents looking for an excellent organic baby formula without palm oil in any stage and without maltodextrin in Stage 1. It has the added bonus of containing prebiotics and being more competitively priced than Holle.
✔️ Holle Formula is better for parents who value traceable ingredient sourcing from Demeter farms, animal welfare, and sustainability. However, it is a bit more expensive than Loulouka, and stages 1-3 contain maltodextrin and palm oil. Of course, stages 2-3 of Loulouka also contain maltodextrin.
Below we outline how we arrived at this conclusion, and our comparison of ingredients, nutrition, farming and manufacturing practices, tolerability and sensitivity, pricing and availability, and parent reviews.
Ingredients in Holle and Loulouka Formulas
Infant formula is one of the most strictly regulated food products on the market, and for good reason. Parents want to be sure they are feeding their infants the best possible ingredients during the most formative time of their lives.
The Holle formulas are available in five Stages suitable for different phases of development: Stage Pre for 0+ months of age, Stage 1 for 0+ months, Stage 2 for 6+ months, Stage 3 for 10+ months, and Stage 4 for 12+ months. Check out our Holle formula review to see the full list of ingredients in each stage.
The Loulouka formulas are available in three Stages: Stage 1 for 0-6 months of age, Stage 2 for 6+ months, and Stage 3 for 10+ months. Check out our Loulouka formula review to see the full list of ingredients in each stage.
Note that the European Union now requires DHA in all infant formulas. In many cases, baby formulas add fish oil to provide DHA, an important Omega 3 fatty acid. Other Omegas are typically provided in the form of plant oils, for instance, rapeseed oil provides ALA (Omega 3), and sunflower or safflower oil provides LA (Omega 6).
In general, most European baby formulas use fish oil rather than an artificial DHA source, due to concerns about the way alternative DHA sources are extracted and manufactured. However, as of 2023, Holle now uses microalgae oil for DHA, and M. Alpina oil for ARA.
Which has the better ingredients?
✔️ Loulouka and Holle are Similar for carbohydrate sources, with both using lactose and skim milk, with some additional whey powder. Holle also includes maltodextrin in Stages 1 to 3 (but not in their Pre variety), whereas Loulouka includes maltodextrin in Stages 2-3 (but not in Stage 1).
✔️ Loulouka and Holle are Similar for protein sources, with both using milk and whey powder. All Loulouka and Holle formulas use skim milk except for Holle Pre, which uses whole milk.
✔️ Loulouka is Better for fat sources. While Holle uses palm oil, rapeseed oil, and sunflower oil in all stages, Loulouka uses sunflower oil, coconut oil, and rapeseed oil. Most parents prefer to avoid palm oil due to their negative effects on calcium and fat absorption (see the AAP paper here).
✔️ Loulouka is Better for prebiotics content, containing galactooligosaccharides (GOS derived from lactose). Holle does not contain any prebiotics or probiotics.
✔️ Loulouka and Holle are Similar for Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, with both including DHA, ARA, ALA, and LA sources.
Carbohydrates: All three stages of Loulouka use skim milk, and lactose is the primary carbohydrate; lactose is added in Stages 1 and 3 of Loulouka, and maltodextrin is added in Stages 2-3 of Loulouka In comparison, Holle also uses lactose as the primary carbohydrate (and whole milk in Pre or skim milk in Stages 1-3), though Stages 1-3 also add maltodextrin as a carbohydrate.
Proteins: Breast milk contains about 60% whey protein and 40% casein proteins, making that 3:2 whey-to-casein ratio ideal for formula-fed babies. Formulas with a higher casein content can be more difficult to digest. All stages of Loulouka included added whey protein to increase the whey-to-casein ratio. In comparison, Holle also adds whey protein, and it is included in all stages (Stages Pre-3).
Fats: All stages of Holle supply additional fats with palm oil, rapeseed oil, and sunflower oil. In contrast, Loulouka does not use palm oil, instead providing fats in the form of sunflower, coconut, and rapeseed oils.
Prebiotics and Probiotics: Neither Holle nor Loulouka includes added probiotics. Definitely check out HiPP formulas if you're interested in a formula with probiotics. Loulouka, however, includes an excellent prebiotic called galactooligosaccharides, which can aid in digestion and gut flora. Note that the EU is likely introducing new prebiotic and probiotic regulations for formula, and we'll update this article when we learn more.
Omega Fatty Acids: Both Holle and Loulouka formulas provide Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, including LA, ALA, and DHA. Loulouka includes fish oil as a DHA source, whereas Holle includes microalgae oil and M. Alpina oil. Note that DHA is a mandatory ingredient in the EU for infant formulas.
For ingredients, therefore, Loulouka wins by a small margin for two reasons. First, Loulouka doesn't use palm oil (but Holle does), which research suggests can reduce calcium and fat absorption in infants. Second, Loulouka contains prebiotics to aid with digestion and promote healthy gut flora. Holle does not include prebiotics or probiotics.
Note that both Loulouka (Stages 2-3) and Holle (Stages 1-3) include maltodextrin as a carbohydrate source. Maltodextrin has a very high glycemic index, meaning that it is quickly and easily digested but also a poor energy source. Research at the Cleveland Clinic suggests that maltodextrin causes blood sugar spikes and may not be great for maintaining healthy flora in your gut microbiome.
Nutritional Content of Loulouka and Holle
Nutritional composition is very similar between Holle and Loulouka in terms of basic macronutrient and micronutrient profiles.
For macronutrients, both Loulouka and Holle appear to meet international food standards established by the World Health Organization for macronutrient content. Per 100kcal of formula, these regulations are as follows:
Carbohydrates: Minimum of 9g, maximum of 14g. Loulouka Stage 1 has 11.3g, Holle Stage 1 has 11.5g.
Proteins: Minimum of 1.8g, maximum of 3.0g. Loulouka Stage 1 has 2.1g, Holle Stage 1 has 2.1g.
Fats: Minimum of 4.4g, maximum of 6.0g. Loulouka Stage 1 has 5.1g, Holle Stage 1 has 5.1g.
Notice how close Holle and Loulouka are to one another in terms of all three macronutrients. Not only are both Loulouka and Holle in the WHO range for macronutrient content, but they are also basically identical to one another. This is very similar to what we found when comparing HiPP vs Holle baby formulas. and Holle vs Lebenswert baby formulas.
✔️ Holle and Loulouka are Similar in macronutrient composition: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
For micronutrients, including not only vitamins and minerals but also Omega fatty acids, both Loulouka and Holle meet WHO international food standards.
Note that international food standards dictate that infant formulas contain at least 300mg of linoleic acid (LA, Omega-6) and 50mg of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, Omega-3) per 100kcal.
Both Loulouka and Holle meet these fatty acid standards, with Loulouka containing 613mg LA and 86mg ALA, and Holle containing 906mg LA and 77.5mg ALA.
Neither baby formula appears to include ARA, the Omega-6 arachidonic acid.
✔️ Holle and Loulouka are Similar in their micronutrient profile, with both containing Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
Loulouka also includes prebiotics in the form of GOS derived from lactose. While GOS itself doesn't provide nutritional value, it can help your body derive more nutritional value from foods.
Farming & Manufacturing Practices
If you've read our full Holle formula review, you know how impressed we are with Holle's ingredient sourcing, farming practices, animal husbandry, and sustainable farming and manufacturing practices.
Holle is based in Germany and sources its milk only from organic and Demeter-certified farms in the EU, which comply with a very stringent set of practices involving annual certification and maintenance.
The dairy cows on these farms are permitted to graze freely on rich biodynamic pastures and are treated humanely without dehorning or high stress. This results in higher quality and better-tasting milk, with a fantastic macro- and micronutrient profile. These are the kinds of milk used in Holle formulas.
If you've read our full Loulouka formula review, you know that Loulouka itself is based in The Netherlands, and they make their baby formulas in Switzerland. While Switzerland is not part of the EU, Loulouka conforms to stringent EU Bio organic standards.
In addition, all of Loulouka's milk is sourced from Swiss dairy farms, which are well-known as some of the highest-quality milk products in the world - think Toblerone and other Swiss milk chocolates! While Swiss dairy farms are very likely to produce high-quality milk, they are not necessarily rigorously monitored and evaluated like the Demeter farms used by Holle.
We believe this is the primary reason why Loulouka is slightly less expensive than Holle.
✔️ Holle is better for ingredient sourcing, animal welfare, and sustainable farming.
Both Loulouka and Holle also conform to rigorous manufacturing standards and employ hundreds of quality checks conducted by themselves and independent certification institutes. Loulouka baby formulas undergo over 50 quality assurance tests before leaving the factory, and they recycle all of their manufacturing waste.
We are confident that both Holle and Loulouka have high manufacturing quality, highly reliable formulations, and undergo frequent and strict inspections for trace chemicals and heavy metals.
✔️ Holle and Loulouka are similar in complying with, and often exceeding modern manufacturing standards and practices.
Note that while Holle may have higher quality ingredient sourcing, there is no evidence that this translates to any specific advantage of their formulas in terms of nutrition or trace chemicals.
Tolerance & Sensitivity of Holle vs Loulouka
This is a complicated question and depends on which stages of the formulas you're comparing.
The Pre stage of Holle is based on whole milk (like Kendamil), which can be difficult for babies to digest relative to skim milk formulas. Holle Stages 1+ all use skim milk instead of whole milk and show high acceptance, tolerance, and digestibility.
All Loulouka stages use skim milk instead of whole milk and tend to show very high tolerability for newborns and infants. Not as great as HiPP formulas, but very good.
✔️ Holle and Loulouka are Similar in overall tolerance and sensitivity.
The only outlier is Holle Stage Pre, which is a bit more difficult to digest. However, note that Holle Stage 1 is also suitable for birth onward, making the Pre version completely optional.
Pricing & Availability of Both Options
In our European baby formula price comparison table, you will notice that Holle tends to cost about $1.80/ounce unless purchased in bulk, which can get the price down to about $1.60/ounce.
Loulouka, on the other hand, tends to cost about $1.50/ounce when purchased in single packages (usually 900g, though Loulouka does have a new 400g package), with discounts in bulk that get the price down to about $1.25/ounce.
Note that you can use our coupon code mommyhood101 at TheMilkyBox for 5% off Holle or Loulouka formulas!
✔️ Loulouka is better for the price, coming in at about 15% cheaper than Holle. On average, that will likely save you about $15 per month on formula by using Loulouka instead of Holle.
Both Loulouka and Holle are widely available online (but not in US stores), and neither tends to go out of stock at major suppliers.
To aggregate parent reviews, we considered ratings and comments collected from three popular websites selling European baby formula.
While parent ratings may be filtered or otherwise altered by these companies, they provide a good indication of overall parent opinions about Loulouka and Holle.
We focused on Stage 1 Loulouka and Stage 1 Holle. From a total of 81 votes cast, Loulouka receives an average rating of 4.95 out of 5 stars. From a total of 450 votes cast, Holle receives an average rating of 4.91 out of 5 stars.
That rating difference of 0.04 is negligible (statistically and practically speaking), though there is a trend toward Loulouka showing slightly higher parent satisfaction.
When parents are negative about Holle, they tend to use terms like Gas and Constipation.
When they are negative about Loulouka, they tend to use words like Gassy and Not Dissolving.
We only found one report of difficulty dissolving Loulouka in water, and one report of gassiness. These reports were at about the same rate as the reports of gassiness and constipation with Holle, so we think they are pretty similar in terms of overall parent experiences.
Holle vs Loulouka: Our Overall Thoughts
If this were a tournament, Loulouka has 3 wins going for it, whereas Holle has 1. They tied in 7 of the competitions.
Overall, they are pretty close! Loulouka wins for the price, the exclusion of maltodextrin in Stage 1, and the omission of palm oil.
In contrast, Holle wins for ingredient sourcing, animal welfare, and sustainability.
Other than that, these two formulas are very similar to one another!
Your determination of whether Holle or Loulouka is better for your child is likely more nuanced than that.
Both Holle and Loulouka are amazing simple formulations, without any added chemicals, preservatives, artificial ingredients, or any of the nasty stuff included in many American baby formula brands.
Both companies pride themselves on not including any artificial DHA or ARA sources in their formulas, citing the potential dangers of DHA and ARA extracted using hexane.
Overall, we believe Loulouka wins this competition by a small margin. However, for parents interested in ingredient traceability and accountability, and sustainable agricultural practices, Holle is the winner. By compromising a bit on those aspects, Loulouka is available at a slightly lower price than Holle, and doesn't contain that pesky palm oil!
While Loulouka wins this competition, you really can't go wrong either way, they are both excellent baby formulas!
Disclaimer: To our knowledge, all ingredient and nutritional information contained in this article was accurate at the time of publication. We make no guarantees regarding the accuracy or timeliness of the information. Always read the packaging and instructions, and consult with your child's pediatrician before making nutritional and feeding decisions. Baby formulas manufactured and labeled for sale in Europe may or may not be approved for sale in the USA by the FDA or other regulatory bodies, so consumer discretion is advised.