New kids on the block: the 40+ brands making healthier choices for babies and children

New kids on the block: the 40+ brands making healthier choices for babies and children

By
Louise Burfitt
August 17, 2021

👶 What is it?

  • Back in the day, ‘eat what you’re given’ might have been the mantra of many households. No getting up from the table until you’ve cleared your plate, right? 
  • Not so fast. These days, attitudes towards kids’ food have changed: it’s not enough to feed your kids any old rubbish, at least in affluent western societies. Many parents (rightly) want the best for their precious littles and so new brands are answering that call, offering a variety of new options that are enlivening the tired old baby purée aisle and offering parents a helping hand when it comes to feeding their kiddos.

🤔 Tell me more…

  • Generation Z - born between the late 1990s and 2010 - and younger Generation Alpha (born after 2010) make up a massive proportion of the people in Europe and the US. In America, they represent a quarter of the entire population. And they all need to eat.
  • In recent years, there’s been a backlash against ultra-processed food - which was recently found to account for two-thirds of calories consumed by children and food - and high sugar levels found in many products aimed at kids. 
  • So several startups have sprung up to offer smarter solutions - whether it’s low-sugar yogurts, fruit snacks, cell-based breast milk or vegan purées.

🤷‍♂️ Why?

  • With more parents in western nations having children later, and often having only one or two children, approaches to parenting have shifted. With fewer children to care for, parents have a singular focus on the child or children they do have and want to ‘get it right’. Canny companies are capitalising on modern insecurities with health and wellness brands aimed at modern parents.
  • As the members of younger, more socially conscious generations become parents, there’s an increased demand for more nourishing, ethical and environmentally friendly baby and toddler food options. Millennial and Gen Z parents are more aware of the links between food, the environment and nutrition and want to put their money where their (kids’) mouth is. 
  • Then there’s the fact that malnutrition is rife, even in more developed societies, and child obesity has climbed to shocking levels throughout the west and further afield. According to the WHO, 39 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2020, rising to 340 million in the age group 5 to 19 years. Parents and governments are more aware of this issue than ever, and so brands are stepping in to offer more nutritious options.

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • As health and improved nutrition continues to rise up the parental agenda, more kid-focused F&B companies are being founded - focusing solely on catering to hungry young mouths. Health is high on their agenda, with many creating products labelled 100% natural, non-GMO, dairy-free, low-sugar or free from artificial additives and sweeteners. 
  • For companies focusing on infant nutrition, there’s two main pathways: innovating in artificial breast milk (see BIOMILQ and Helaina) through cell-based technology or fermentation is the first. The second is in healthy, nutritious baby food for infants post-weaning - products designed to taste as good as homemade, but with added health and time-saving benefits. Ella’s Kitchen and Organix are key players in that market, with newcomers including Gro Gro (Norway), NüBee (Switzerland) and Nuri (Germany) also making waves. Cold-pressed baby food, for better nutrient preservation, is an emerging trend - check out Little Tummy and Once Upon A Farm to learn more. 
  • Busy parents lack time - even more so during the pandemic, when many daycare providers and schools throughout the world were closed for months on end. What’s more, millennial parents are more likely to both have jobs outside of parenting - making time even more of an issue. This has boosted the growth of D2C delivery models, especially those based on a subscription model. Who better than tired, overworked parents to benefit from a service that drops healthy meals for your kids on the doorstep? Little Spoon (USA), Tiny Organics (USA), Yumble (USA) and Mamamade (UK) all offer free delivery of their products.
  • Already popular with their millennial parents, plant-based food for kids is an emerging category. Israel’s Else Nutrition is developing new plant-based proteins while i love you veggie much sells high-quality organic baby food for kids on a vegan diet. In the healthy treats niche, the UK’s Naturelly are making healthier vegan jellies. Mia & Ben makes plant-based yogurts aimed at kids.
  • Healthy snacking is also a big market - one survey found that 55% of millennial mothers questioned said their kids would opt for a better-for-you-snack. Driven by greater awareness about the high levels of sugar in many traditional foods, more wholesome takes on traditional snacks are sweeping the field, whether it’s lower-sugar rice crispy snacks (Hullabaloo) or healthy cookies (SNACKZILLA).
  • Other companies are focusing on low-sugar spreads and condiments: Switzerland’s Connie’s Kitchen have developed a low-sugar ketchup alternative, while MINJUM’S FOODS down under are focusing their attention on healthier spreads.
  • Several adult-focused snack brands have also recently expanded to include options specifically for kids. These include Kind Bar’s granola bars and Kellogg’s-owned RXBar, as well as PepsiCo’s Imagine line - which encompasses yogurt crisps and cheesy stars.

👀 Who? (46 companies in this space)

📈 The figures

  • The kids’ food and beverage market worldwide is expected to grow to $146.7 billion by the year 2025. 
  • In the USA, moreover, households that included children made up 36% of all food and beverage product sales, accounting for 41% of growth.
Source: Little Spoons

🥄 Case study: Little Spoon

  • Little Spoon, based in New York, makes fresh, healthy baby purées and children’s meals, sold via a direct-to-consumer model. 
  • To make the lives of busy parents as easy as possible, the startup follows a subscription model: mums and dads pay for a set number of meals upfront and wait for them to be delivered directly to their door.
  • Aimed at kids aged 4-6 months and above, the company has three main lines: Babyblends is a line of organic purees aimed at infants, Plates are nutritious, ready-to-eat meals for toddlers and older kids, and Boosters, which are concentrated nutritional supplements and probiotics. 
  • And though more pricey than your average supermarket fare, Little Spoon’s service is designed to be affordable: Babyblends comes in at less than $3 per meal, while their readymade meals cost less than $5 per serving. 
  • One thing that sets Little Spoon apart from its competitors - of which there are plenty - is its focus on community building and dedication to its main customer base. The brand provides a community forum for its subscribers, called Is This Normal, thus fostering a sense of community and kinship among its clientele. 
  • They also sped up the launch of their Plates line, aimed at older children, during the pandemic, after realising that parents were more overworked and starved of time than ever.
  • The startup raised $44 million in Series B funding this July, taking its total funding to $73 million, and plans to use the money to develop new products. 
BIOMILQ Team

🍼 Case study: BIOMILQ

  • Meanwhile, further south in North Carolina, one tech-forward startup is taking a different approach to kids’ nutrition with their drive to create cultured human breast milk.
  • BIOMILQ, founded in 2020, uses groundbreaking mammary biotechnology to create a product that’s nutritionally identical to natural breast milk - yet offers the easy convenience usually associated with infant formula. 
  • The health and nutritional benefits of breastfeeding for kids are multiple, but it’s not something every parent can or is able to offer their child. Only 25% of American mothers, for example, exclusively breastfeed for the six months recommended by the WHO. Yet the company’s founders soon realised that the dairy-based infant formula options were low-quality or contained major allergens.
  • With total funding to the tune of $3.5 million, founders Leila Strickland and Michelle Egger are the first to create real breastmilk in the lab - though other companies are also taking a shot at it.
  • Last year, BIOMILQ raised $3.5 million in seed funding, and are now concentrating on optimising their product and jumping through the many regulatory hurdles needed to bring their milk to market.
  • Their parent-centred approach has enabled the company to develop effective, consumer-friendly marketing that helps parents understand how their products offer a better alternative to traditional formula on many levels.

👍 The good

  • Although there are a fair few startups operating in the baby and child food segment, healthy products designed specifically for children are relatively new kids on the block - and that means there’s plenty of opportunities for growth.
  • Healthier options will have a knock-on effect on the wellbeing of children, and that can only be a good thing - especially given the scary statistics on childhood obesity and malnutrition. 
  • Better sustainability credentials will also help to reduce the environmental impacts of certain products, such as conventional infant formula.
  • Subscription services, better-for-them snacks, and doorstep meal deliveries will also go some way to aiding busy millennial parents, who want to feed their kids wholesome foods but don’t have the time to prepare them from scratch. 

👎 The bad

  • Marketing to kids is highly regulated in many countries, so brands must tread carefully when advertising to younger consumers. 
  • To avoid that particular minefield, many companies choose to target parents instead - but the millennial market can prove a hard nut to crack, often with shifting loyalties, busy lives and lighter wallets. 
  • Brands must also consider the delicate balancing act where kids’ food is concerned: products can’t just appeal to parents or kids, both need to be appeased. Reaching a compromise between these competing desires is key. 
  • And on that note, parents might be a little harder to please these days - with many more aware of ingredients, sustainability and child nutrition than in days gone by. Mums and dads are more fussy about what they feed their kids, and brands need to build up trust with clear messaging and safety and nutrition information. Little Spoon’s parent community is a great example of a brand doing this in practice.

 💡The bottom line

  • Treading the fine line between parental appeal, nutrition and kid-friendly foods isn’t necessarily a simple one - and brands need to get that balance right to succeed. 
  • But what’s clear is that many are striking that compromise, relegating dusty jars of infant purée to the back of the queue, with exciting, fresh options that are designed to save busy parents time and make kids happy and healthy in the process.

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👶 What is it?

  • Back in the day, ‘eat what you’re given’ might have been the mantra of many households. No getting up from the table until you’ve cleared your plate, right? 
  • Not so fast. These days, attitudes towards kids’ food have changed: it’s not enough to feed your kids any old rubbish, at least in affluent western societies. Many parents (rightly) want the best for their precious littles and so new brands are answering that call, offering a variety of new options that are enlivening the tired old baby purée aisle and offering parents a helping hand when it comes to feeding their kiddos.

🤔 Tell me more…

  • Generation Z - born between the late 1990s and 2010 - and younger Generation Alpha (born after 2010) make up a massive proportion of the people in Europe and the US. In America, they represent a quarter of the entire population. And they all need to eat.
  • In recent years, there’s been a backlash against ultra-processed food - which was recently found to account for two-thirds of calories consumed by children and food - and high sugar levels found in many products aimed at kids. 
  • So several startups have sprung up to offer smarter solutions - whether it’s low-sugar yogurts, fruit snacks, cell-based breast milk or vegan purées.

🤷‍♂️ Why?

  • With more parents in western nations having children later, and often having only one or two children, approaches to parenting have shifted. With fewer children to care for, parents have a singular focus on the child or children they do have and want to ‘get it right’. Canny companies are capitalising on modern insecurities with health and wellness brands aimed at modern parents.
  • As the members of younger, more socially conscious generations become parents, there’s an increased demand for more nourishing, ethical and environmentally friendly baby and toddler food options. Millennial and Gen Z parents are more aware of the links between food, the environment and nutrition and want to put their money where their (kids’) mouth is. 
  • Then there’s the fact that malnutrition is rife, even in more developed societies, and child obesity has climbed to shocking levels throughout the west and further afield. According to the WHO, 39 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2020, rising to 340 million in the age group 5 to 19 years. Parents and governments are more aware of this issue than ever, and so brands are stepping in to offer more nutritious options.

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • As health and improved nutrition continues to rise up the parental agenda, more kid-focused F&B companies are being founded - focusing solely on catering to hungry young mouths. Health is high on their agenda, with many creating products labelled 100% natural, non-GMO, dairy-free, low-sugar or free from artificial additives and sweeteners. 
  • For companies focusing on infant nutrition, there’s two main pathways: innovating in artificial breast milk (see BIOMILQ and Helaina) through cell-based technology or fermentation is the first. The second is in healthy, nutritious baby food for infants post-weaning - products designed to taste as good as homemade, but with added health and time-saving benefits. Ella’s Kitchen and Organix are key players in that market, with newcomers including Gro Gro (Norway), NüBee (Switzerland) and Nuri (Germany) also making waves. Cold-pressed baby food, for better nutrient preservation, is an emerging trend - check out Little Tummy and Once Upon A Farm to learn more. 
  • Busy parents lack time - even more so during the pandemic, when many daycare providers and schools throughout the world were closed for months on end. What’s more, millennial parents are more likely to both have jobs outside of parenting - making time even more of an issue. This has boosted the growth of D2C delivery models, especially those based on a subscription model. Who better than tired, overworked parents to benefit from a service that drops healthy meals for your kids on the doorstep? Little Spoon (USA), Tiny Organics (USA), Yumble (USA) and Mamamade (UK) all offer free delivery of their products.
  • Already popular with their millennial parents, plant-based food for kids is an emerging category. Israel’s Else Nutrition is developing new plant-based proteins while i love you veggie much sells high-quality organic baby food for kids on a vegan diet. In the healthy treats niche, the UK’s Naturelly are making healthier vegan jellies. Mia & Ben makes plant-based yogurts aimed at kids.
  • Healthy snacking is also a big market - one survey found that 55% of millennial mothers questioned said their kids would opt for a better-for-you-snack. Driven by greater awareness about the high levels of sugar in many traditional foods, more wholesome takes on traditional snacks are sweeping the field, whether it’s lower-sugar rice crispy snacks (Hullabaloo) or healthy cookies (SNACKZILLA).
  • Other companies are focusing on low-sugar spreads and condiments: Switzerland’s Connie’s Kitchen have developed a low-sugar ketchup alternative, while MINJUM’S FOODS down under are focusing their attention on healthier spreads.
  • Several adult-focused snack brands have also recently expanded to include options specifically for kids. These include Kind Bar’s granola bars and Kellogg’s-owned RXBar, as well as PepsiCo’s Imagine line - which encompasses yogurt crisps and cheesy stars.

👀 Who? (46 companies in this space)

📈 The figures

  • The kids’ food and beverage market worldwide is expected to grow to $146.7 billion by the year 2025. 
  • In the USA, moreover, households that included children made up 36% of all food and beverage product sales, accounting for 41% of growth.
Source: Little Spoons

🥄 Case study: Little Spoon

  • Little Spoon, based in New York, makes fresh, healthy baby purées and children’s meals, sold via a direct-to-consumer model. 
  • To make the lives of busy parents as easy as possible, the startup follows a subscription model: mums and dads pay for a set number of meals upfront and wait for them to be delivered directly to their door.
  • Aimed at kids aged 4-6 months and above, the company has three main lines: Babyblends is a line of organic purees aimed at infants, Plates are nutritious, ready-to-eat meals for toddlers and older kids, and Boosters, which are concentrated nutritional supplements and probiotics. 
  • And though more pricey than your average supermarket fare, Little Spoon’s service is designed to be affordable: Babyblends comes in at less than $3 per meal, while their readymade meals cost less than $5 per serving. 
  • One thing that sets Little Spoon apart from its competitors - of which there are plenty - is its focus on community building and dedication to its main customer base. The brand provides a community forum for its subscribers, called Is This Normal, thus fostering a sense of community and kinship among its clientele. 
  • They also sped up the launch of their Plates line, aimed at older children, during the pandemic, after realising that parents were more overworked and starved of time than ever.
  • The startup raised $44 million in Series B funding this July, taking its total funding to $73 million, and plans to use the money to develop new products. 
BIOMILQ Team

🍼 Case study: BIOMILQ

  • Meanwhile, further south in North Carolina, one tech-forward startup is taking a different approach to kids’ nutrition with their drive to create cultured human breast milk.
  • BIOMILQ, founded in 2020, uses groundbreaking mammary biotechnology to create a product that’s nutritionally identical to natural breast milk - yet offers the easy convenience usually associated with infant formula. 
  • The health and nutritional benefits of breastfeeding for kids are multiple, but it’s not something every parent can or is able to offer their child. Only 25% of American mothers, for example, exclusively breastfeed for the six months recommended by the WHO. Yet the company’s founders soon realised that the dairy-based infant formula options were low-quality or contained major allergens.
  • With total funding to the tune of $3.5 million, founders Leila Strickland and Michelle Egger are the first to create real breastmilk in the lab - though other companies are also taking a shot at it.
  • Last year, BIOMILQ raised $3.5 million in seed funding, and are now concentrating on optimising their product and jumping through the many regulatory hurdles needed to bring their milk to market.
  • Their parent-centred approach has enabled the company to develop effective, consumer-friendly marketing that helps parents understand how their products offer a better alternative to traditional formula on many levels.

👍 The good

  • Although there are a fair few startups operating in the baby and child food segment, healthy products designed specifically for children are relatively new kids on the block - and that means there’s plenty of opportunities for growth.
  • Healthier options will have a knock-on effect on the wellbeing of children, and that can only be a good thing - especially given the scary statistics on childhood obesity and malnutrition. 
  • Better sustainability credentials will also help to reduce the environmental impacts of certain products, such as conventional infant formula.
  • Subscription services, better-for-them snacks, and doorstep meal deliveries will also go some way to aiding busy millennial parents, who want to feed their kids wholesome foods but don’t have the time to prepare them from scratch. 

👎 The bad

  • Marketing to kids is highly regulated in many countries, so brands must tread carefully when advertising to younger consumers. 
  • To avoid that particular minefield, many companies choose to target parents instead - but the millennial market can prove a hard nut to crack, often with shifting loyalties, busy lives and lighter wallets. 
  • Brands must also consider the delicate balancing act where kids’ food is concerned: products can’t just appeal to parents or kids, both need to be appeased. Reaching a compromise between these competing desires is key. 
  • And on that note, parents might be a little harder to please these days - with many more aware of ingredients, sustainability and child nutrition than in days gone by. Mums and dads are more fussy about what they feed their kids, and brands need to build up trust with clear messaging and safety and nutrition information. Little Spoon’s parent community is a great example of a brand doing this in practice.

 💡The bottom line

  • Treading the fine line between parental appeal, nutrition and kid-friendly foods isn’t necessarily a simple one - and brands need to get that balance right to succeed. 
  • But what’s clear is that many are striking that compromise, relegating dusty jars of infant purée to the back of the queue, with exciting, fresh options that are designed to save busy parents time and make kids happy and healthy in the process.

How did you like today's Trends?

Love it 😁 Meh 😐 Hate it 🙁

👶 What is it?

  • Back in the day, ‘eat what you’re given’ might have been the mantra of many households. No getting up from the table until you’ve cleared your plate, right? 
  • Not so fast. These days, attitudes towards kids’ food have changed: it’s not enough to feed your kids any old rubbish, at least in affluent western societies. Many parents (rightly) want the best for their precious littles and so new brands are answering that call, offering a variety of new options that are enlivening the tired old baby purée aisle and offering parents a helping hand when it comes to feeding their kiddos.

🤔 Tell me more…

  • Generation Z - born between the late 1990s and 2010 - and younger Generation Alpha (born after 2010) make up a massive proportion of the people in Europe and the US. In America, they represent a quarter of the entire population. And they all need to eat.
  • In recent years, there’s been a backlash against ultra-processed food - which was recently found to account for two-thirds of calories consumed by children and food - and high sugar levels found in many products aimed at kids. 
  • So several startups have sprung up to offer smarter solutions - whether it’s low-sugar yogurts, fruit snacks, cell-based breast milk or vegan purées.

🤷‍♂️ Why?

  • With more parents in western nations having children later, and often having only one or two children, approaches to parenting have shifted. With fewer children to care for, parents have a singular focus on the child or children they do have and want to ‘get it right’. Canny companies are capitalising on modern insecurities with health and wellness brands aimed at modern parents.
  • As the members of younger, more socially conscious generations become parents, there’s an increased demand for more nourishing, ethical and environmentally friendly baby and toddler food options. Millennial and Gen Z parents are more aware of the links between food, the environment and nutrition and want to put their money where their (kids’) mouth is. 
  • Then there’s the fact that malnutrition is rife, even in more developed societies, and child obesity has climbed to shocking levels throughout the west and further afield. According to the WHO, 39 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2020, rising to 340 million in the age group 5 to 19 years. Parents and governments are more aware of this issue than ever, and so brands are stepping in to offer more nutritious options.

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • As health and improved nutrition continues to rise up the parental agenda, more kid-focused F&B companies are being founded - focusing solely on catering to hungry young mouths. Health is high on their agenda, with many creating products labelled 100% natural, non-GMO, dairy-free, low-sugar or free from artificial additives and sweeteners. 
  • For companies focusing on infant nutrition, there’s two main pathways: innovating in artificial breast milk (see BIOMILQ and Helaina) through cell-based technology or fermentation is the first. The second is in healthy, nutritious baby food for infants post-weaning - products designed to taste as good as homemade, but with added health and time-saving benefits. Ella’s Kitchen and Organix are key players in that market, with newcomers including Gro Gro (Norway), NüBee (Switzerland) and Nuri (Germany) also making waves. Cold-pressed baby food, for better nutrient preservation, is an emerging trend - check out Little Tummy and Once Upon A Farm to learn more. 
  • Busy parents lack time - even more so during the pandemic, when many daycare providers and schools throughout the world were closed for months on end. What’s more, millennial parents are more likely to both have jobs outside of parenting - making time even more of an issue. This has boosted the growth of D2C delivery models, especially those based on a subscription model. Who better than tired, overworked parents to benefit from a service that drops healthy meals for your kids on the doorstep? Little Spoon (USA), Tiny Organics (USA), Yumble (USA) and Mamamade (UK) all offer free delivery of their products.
  • Already popular with their millennial parents, plant-based food for kids is an emerging category. Israel’s Else Nutrition is developing new plant-based proteins while i love you veggie much sells high-quality organic baby food for kids on a vegan diet. In the healthy treats niche, the UK’s Naturelly are making healthier vegan jellies. Mia & Ben makes plant-based yogurts aimed at kids.
  • Healthy snacking is also a big market - one survey found that 55% of millennial mothers questioned said their kids would opt for a better-for-you-snack. Driven by greater awareness about the high levels of sugar in many traditional foods, more wholesome takes on traditional snacks are sweeping the field, whether it’s lower-sugar rice crispy snacks (Hullabaloo) or healthy cookies (SNACKZILLA).
  • Other companies are focusing on low-sugar spreads and condiments: Switzerland’s Connie’s Kitchen have developed a low-sugar ketchup alternative, while MINJUM’S FOODS down under are focusing their attention on healthier spreads.
  • Several adult-focused snack brands have also recently expanded to include options specifically for kids. These include Kind Bar’s granola bars and Kellogg’s-owned RXBar, as well as PepsiCo’s Imagine line - which encompasses yogurt crisps and cheesy stars.

👀 Who? (46 companies in this space)

📈 The figures

  • The kids’ food and beverage market worldwide is expected to grow to $146.7 billion by the year 2025. 
  • In the USA, moreover, households that included children made up 36% of all food and beverage product sales, accounting for 41% of growth.
Source: Little Spoons

🥄 Case study: Little Spoon

  • Little Spoon, based in New York, makes fresh, healthy baby purées and children’s meals, sold via a direct-to-consumer model. 
  • To make the lives of busy parents as easy as possible, the startup follows a subscription model: mums and dads pay for a set number of meals upfront and wait for them to be delivered directly to their door.
  • Aimed at kids aged 4-6 months and above, the company has three main lines: Babyblends is a line of organic purees aimed at infants, Plates are nutritious, ready-to-eat meals for toddlers and older kids, and Boosters, which are concentrated nutritional supplements and probiotics. 
  • And though more pricey than your average supermarket fare, Little Spoon’s service is designed to be affordable: Babyblends comes in at less than $3 per meal, while their readymade meals cost less than $5 per serving. 
  • One thing that sets Little Spoon apart from its competitors - of which there are plenty - is its focus on community building and dedication to its main customer base. The brand provides a community forum for its subscribers, called Is This Normal, thus fostering a sense of community and kinship among its clientele. 
  • They also sped up the launch of their Plates line, aimed at older children, during the pandemic, after realising that parents were more overworked and starved of time than ever.
  • The startup raised $44 million in Series B funding this July, taking its total funding to $73 million, and plans to use the money to develop new products. 
BIOMILQ Team

🍼 Case study: BIOMILQ

  • Meanwhile, further south in North Carolina, one tech-forward startup is taking a different approach to kids’ nutrition with their drive to create cultured human breast milk.
  • BIOMILQ, founded in 2020, uses groundbreaking mammary biotechnology to create a product that’s nutritionally identical to natural breast milk - yet offers the easy convenience usually associated with infant formula. 
  • The health and nutritional benefits of breastfeeding for kids are multiple, but it’s not something every parent can or is able to offer their child. Only 25% of American mothers, for example, exclusively breastfeed for the six months recommended by the WHO. Yet the company’s founders soon realised that the dairy-based infant formula options were low-quality or contained major allergens.
  • With total funding to the tune of $3.5 million, founders Leila Strickland and Michelle Egger are the first to create real breastmilk in the lab - though other companies are also taking a shot at it.
  • Last year, BIOMILQ raised $3.5 million in seed funding, and are now concentrating on optimising their product and jumping through the many regulatory hurdles needed to bring their milk to market.
  • Their parent-centred approach has enabled the company to develop effective, consumer-friendly marketing that helps parents understand how their products offer a better alternative to traditional formula on many levels.

👍 The good

  • Although there are a fair few startups operating in the baby and child food segment, healthy products designed specifically for children are relatively new kids on the block - and that means there’s plenty of opportunities for growth.
  • Healthier options will have a knock-on effect on the wellbeing of children, and that can only be a good thing - especially given the scary statistics on childhood obesity and malnutrition. 
  • Better sustainability credentials will also help to reduce the environmental impacts of certain products, such as conventional infant formula.
  • Subscription services, better-for-them snacks, and doorstep meal deliveries will also go some way to aiding busy millennial parents, who want to feed their kids wholesome foods but don’t have the time to prepare them from scratch. 

👎 The bad

  • Marketing to kids is highly regulated in many countries, so brands must tread carefully when advertising to younger consumers. 
  • To avoid that particular minefield, many companies choose to target parents instead - but the millennial market can prove a hard nut to crack, often with shifting loyalties, busy lives and lighter wallets. 
  • Brands must also consider the delicate balancing act where kids’ food is concerned: products can’t just appeal to parents or kids, both need to be appeased. Reaching a compromise between these competing desires is key. 
  • And on that note, parents might be a little harder to please these days - with many more aware of ingredients, sustainability and child nutrition than in days gone by. Mums and dads are more fussy about what they feed their kids, and brands need to build up trust with clear messaging and safety and nutrition information. Little Spoon’s parent community is a great example of a brand doing this in practice.

 💡The bottom line

  • Treading the fine line between parental appeal, nutrition and kid-friendly foods isn’t necessarily a simple one - and brands need to get that balance right to succeed. 
  • But what’s clear is that many are striking that compromise, relegating dusty jars of infant purée to the back of the queue, with exciting, fresh options that are designed to save busy parents time and make kids happy and healthy in the process.

How did you like today's Trends?

Love it 😁 Meh 😐 Hate it 🙁

👶 What is it?

  • Back in the day, ‘eat what you’re given’ might have been the mantra of many households. No getting up from the table until you’ve cleared your plate, right? 
  • Not so fast. These days, attitudes towards kids’ food have changed: it’s not enough to feed your kids any old rubbish, at least in affluent western societies. Many parents (rightly) want the best for their precious littles and so new brands are answering that call, offering a variety of new options that are enlivening the tired old baby purée aisle and offering parents a helping hand when it comes to feeding their kiddos.

🤔 Tell me more…

  • Generation Z - born between the late 1990s and 2010 - and younger Generation Alpha (born after 2010) make up a massive proportion of the people in Europe and the US. In America, they represent a quarter of the entire population. And they all need to eat.
  • In recent years, there’s been a backlash against ultra-processed food - which was recently found to account for two-thirds of calories consumed by children and food - and high sugar levels found in many products aimed at kids. 
  • So several startups have sprung up to offer smarter solutions - whether it’s low-sugar yogurts, fruit snacks, cell-based breast milk or vegan purées.

🤷‍♂️ Why?

  • With more parents in western nations having children later, and often having only one or two children, approaches to parenting have shifted. With fewer children to care for, parents have a singular focus on the child or children they do have and want to ‘get it right’. Canny companies are capitalising on modern insecurities with health and wellness brands aimed at modern parents.
  • As the members of younger, more socially conscious generations become parents, there’s an increased demand for more nourishing, ethical and environmentally friendly baby and toddler food options. Millennial and Gen Z parents are more aware of the links between food, the environment and nutrition and want to put their money where their (kids’) mouth is. 
  • Then there’s the fact that malnutrition is rife, even in more developed societies, and child obesity has climbed to shocking levels throughout the west and further afield. According to the WHO, 39 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2020, rising to 340 million in the age group 5 to 19 years. Parents and governments are more aware of this issue than ever, and so brands are stepping in to offer more nutritious options.

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • As health and improved nutrition continues to rise up the parental agenda, more kid-focused F&B companies are being founded - focusing solely on catering to hungry young mouths. Health is high on their agenda, with many creating products labelled 100% natural, non-GMO, dairy-free, low-sugar or free from artificial additives and sweeteners. 
  • For companies focusing on infant nutrition, there’s two main pathways: innovating in artificial breast milk (see BIOMILQ and Helaina) through cell-based technology or fermentation is the first. The second is in healthy, nutritious baby food for infants post-weaning - products designed to taste as good as homemade, but with added health and time-saving benefits. Ella’s Kitchen and Organix are key players in that market, with newcomers including Gro Gro (Norway), NüBee (Switzerland) and Nuri (Germany) also making waves. Cold-pressed baby food, for better nutrient preservation, is an emerging trend - check out Little Tummy and Once Upon A Farm to learn more. 
  • Busy parents lack time - even more so during the pandemic, when many daycare providers and schools throughout the world were closed for months on end. What’s more, millennial parents are more likely to both have jobs outside of parenting - making time even more of an issue. This has boosted the growth of D2C delivery models, especially those based on a subscription model. Who better than tired, overworked parents to benefit from a service that drops healthy meals for your kids on the doorstep? Little Spoon (USA), Tiny Organics (USA), Yumble (USA) and Mamamade (UK) all offer free delivery of their products.
  • Already popular with their millennial parents, plant-based food for kids is an emerging category. Israel’s Else Nutrition is developing new plant-based proteins while i love you veggie much sells high-quality organic baby food for kids on a vegan diet. In the healthy treats niche, the UK’s Naturelly are making healthier vegan jellies. Mia & Ben makes plant-based yogurts aimed at kids.
  • Healthy snacking is also a big market - one survey found that 55% of millennial mothers questioned said their kids would opt for a better-for-you-snack. Driven by greater awareness about the high levels of sugar in many traditional foods, more wholesome takes on traditional snacks are sweeping the field, whether it’s lower-sugar rice crispy snacks (Hullabaloo) or healthy cookies (SNACKZILLA).
  • Other companies are focusing on low-sugar spreads and condiments: Switzerland’s Connie’s Kitchen have developed a low-sugar ketchup alternative, while MINJUM’S FOODS down under are focusing their attention on healthier spreads.
  • Several adult-focused snack brands have also recently expanded to include options specifically for kids. These include Kind Bar’s granola bars and Kellogg’s-owned RXBar, as well as PepsiCo’s Imagine line - which encompasses yogurt crisps and cheesy stars.

👀 Who? (46 companies in this space)

📈 The figures

  • The kids’ food and beverage market worldwide is expected to grow to $146.7 billion by the year 2025. 
  • In the USA, moreover, households that included children made up 36% of all food and beverage product sales, accounting for 41% of growth.
Source: Little Spoons

🥄 Case study: Little Spoon

  • Little Spoon, based in New York, makes fresh, healthy baby purées and children’s meals, sold via a direct-to-consumer model. 
  • To make the lives of busy parents as easy as possible, the startup follows a subscription model: mums and dads pay for a set number of meals upfront and wait for them to be delivered directly to their door.
  • Aimed at kids aged 4-6 months and above, the company has three main lines: Babyblends is a line of organic purees aimed at infants, Plates are nutritious, ready-to-eat meals for toddlers and older kids, and Boosters, which are concentrated nutritional supplements and probiotics. 
  • And though more pricey than your average supermarket fare, Little Spoon’s service is designed to be affordable: Babyblends comes in at less than $3 per meal, while their readymade meals cost less than $5 per serving. 
  • One thing that sets Little Spoon apart from its competitors - of which there are plenty - is its focus on community building and dedication to its main customer base. The brand provides a community forum for its subscribers, called Is This Normal, thus fostering a sense of community and kinship among its clientele. 
  • They also sped up the launch of their Plates line, aimed at older children, during the pandemic, after realising that parents were more overworked and starved of time than ever.
  • The startup raised $44 million in Series B funding this July, taking its total funding to $73 million, and plans to use the money to develop new products. 
BIOMILQ Team

🍼 Case study: BIOMILQ

  • Meanwhile, further south in North Carolina, one tech-forward startup is taking a different approach to kids’ nutrition with their drive to create cultured human breast milk.
  • BIOMILQ, founded in 2020, uses groundbreaking mammary biotechnology to create a product that’s nutritionally identical to natural breast milk - yet offers the easy convenience usually associated with infant formula. 
  • The health and nutritional benefits of breastfeeding for kids are multiple, but it’s not something every parent can or is able to offer their child. Only 25% of American mothers, for example, exclusively breastfeed for the six months recommended by the WHO. Yet the company’s founders soon realised that the dairy-based infant formula options were low-quality or contained major allergens.
  • With total funding to the tune of $3.5 million, founders Leila Strickland and Michelle Egger are the first to create real breastmilk in the lab - though other companies are also taking a shot at it.
  • Last year, BIOMILQ raised $3.5 million in seed funding, and are now concentrating on optimising their product and jumping through the many regulatory hurdles needed to bring their milk to market.
  • Their parent-centred approach has enabled the company to develop effective, consumer-friendly marketing that helps parents understand how their products offer a better alternative to traditional formula on many levels.

👍 The good

  • Although there are a fair few startups operating in the baby and child food segment, healthy products designed specifically for children are relatively new kids on the block - and that means there’s plenty of opportunities for growth.
  • Healthier options will have a knock-on effect on the wellbeing of children, and that can only be a good thing - especially given the scary statistics on childhood obesity and malnutrition. 
  • Better sustainability credentials will also help to reduce the environmental impacts of certain products, such as conventional infant formula.
  • Subscription services, better-for-them snacks, and doorstep meal deliveries will also go some way to aiding busy millennial parents, who want to feed their kids wholesome foods but don’t have the time to prepare them from scratch. 

👎 The bad

  • Marketing to kids is highly regulated in many countries, so brands must tread carefully when advertising to younger consumers. 
  • To avoid that particular minefield, many companies choose to target parents instead - but the millennial market can prove a hard nut to crack, often with shifting loyalties, busy lives and lighter wallets. 
  • Brands must also consider the delicate balancing act where kids’ food is concerned: products can’t just appeal to parents or kids, both need to be appeased. Reaching a compromise between these competing desires is key. 
  • And on that note, parents might be a little harder to please these days - with many more aware of ingredients, sustainability and child nutrition than in days gone by. Mums and dads are more fussy about what they feed their kids, and brands need to build up trust with clear messaging and safety and nutrition information. Little Spoon’s parent community is a great example of a brand doing this in practice.

 💡The bottom line

  • Treading the fine line between parental appeal, nutrition and kid-friendly foods isn’t necessarily a simple one - and brands need to get that balance right to succeed. 
  • But what’s clear is that many are striking that compromise, relegating dusty jars of infant purée to the back of the queue, with exciting, fresh options that are designed to save busy parents time and make kids happy and healthy in the process.

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