Baby food is big business. While it might not be an industry ripe for innovation, several startups feel they have the magic formula to grab marketshare and mindshare.
One of the latest to enter the fray is Little Spoon, a San Francisco baby food manufacturer and delivery company in its early “invite” stage. The company believes it can provide our little ones with healthier meals offered with great convenience. According to Statista, the baby food market in the United States has more than seven billion in annual sales. To date, a few newcomers such as Caer (now Yumi) and Gather have tried and failed, or been forced to rebrand.
The biggest challenge to break into the baby food market is competing with giants, such as Gerber, as well as a growing number of organic brands. Many new baby food meal kit ventures, even with offering delivery, have yet to successfully crack the baby food market.
Little Spoon co-founder Michelle Muller does have a new angle which she believes will give her company a real shot at success. Little Spoon uses a technology known as HPP (High Pressure Processing) which is a cold pasteurization process that improves shelf life, while allowing the food to retain its natural nutritional value.
“Modern parents have been forced to choose between two options when it came to feeding their children: Either they can spend hours a day cooking fresh baby food themselves or they can buy highly processed, in-store options that are filled with sugar, low in nutrition, and in many cases are older than the baby eating it,” Muller told tech publication Snapmunk.
She continued, “It is crazy to us that parents have to make the tradeoff between their baby’s nutrition and their own time and sanity. Using the latest in HPP technology, we change all this by making fresh and homemade baby food available anywhere in the nation, direct to your door, and at an affordable cost.”
In most ways, the Little Spoon service is similar to other subscription meal delivery providers. Choices range from one meal per day at $4.99 per meal through a three-a-day plan at $3.99 per. Customization includes selecting a child’s preferences such as flavor and texture. The company currently is accepting customer invites, with no start date set for delivery.
Even though the landscape is riddled with failures, Little Spoon is not alone in sensing opportunity in the baby food space. Thistle already is in market with traditional meal kits but has expanded to include Thistle Baby--prepackaged baby food meal kits. The difference for this San Francisco Company is that the meals are plant based and come flash frozen to customers in California and Nevada. Also a subscription service, the meals currently cost $2.15/each or $45 per box, including free local or overnight delivery. Each box includes enough food for 21 meals or one week’s worth of food.
Similar to Little Spoon, Chicago’s Nurture Life uses a process called MAP (modified atmospheric packaging) which allows food to stay cold and fresh without freezing. The company says it sources locally whenever possible and also emphasizes organic ingredients. Nurture Life states that it uses a team of chefs skilled in appealing and customizing meals to meet a wide variety of young diets. The subscription plans offer food for babies up through 18-year-olds. An eight-meal-a-week plan for a baby is $45, while a 14-week plan clocks in at $75.
Then there is Raised Real, a startup by Orange Chef cofounder Santiago Merea (see our interview with Merea here). Raised Real, which offers subscription meal kits with raw ingredients, has its own baby food machine called the Meal Maker that steams, blends and purees the raw ingredients into finished baby food. The Meal Maker comes complimentary with a biweekly or monthly subscription plan or can be purchased for $99. A monthly plan runs $180, or $4.50 per meal.