Baby food startups are giving new life to a market that hasn’t evolved in almost a century. “The options for parents to feed their children baby food haven’t changed in nearly 100 years,” Little Spoon Co-founder and CMO Lisa Barnett told PYMNTS in an interview. Barnett noted that baby food has been the same unhealthy, processed, preservative-packed product. Although she noted that the food has often been sitting on the shelf longer than the baby has been alive, it has been the only convenient option. But with a new generation of parents who understand the connection between food and health coming into the fold, Barnett, along with her co-founders, was inspired to start Little Spoon.
Simply said, Little Spoon is a baby food company that operates on an online subscription business model. “We make fresh organic baby food and deliver it right to your door,” said Barnett. Each family gets put on a different meal plan that evolves with their children as they grow, ensuring that the appropriate meal flavor and texture profile are sent. To start subscribing to the service, customers take a short quiz that asks for information such as a child’s age, dietary restrictions and allergies. The company then sends recommendations based on age and developmental needs.
The Business Model
Little Spoon sends meals to customers across the United States – with the exception of Hawaii and Alaska – on a biweekly basis for a 14-day supply. Similar to other services that offer perishable food, the company uses different partner providers to ensure that when customers open the boxes, “they have fresh, chilled, ready-to-eat baby food,” Barnett said. And they, in turn, won’t have to worry about feeding their babies the same thing over and over, or a shelf-stable, processed food.
To pay for delivery of their baby food, customers can use their credit or debit cards as well as Apple Pay (Google Pay is also on the docket). Little Spoon Co-founder and CPO Angela Vranich said the option has helped to increase conversions. Busy parents may be going through the checkout process, and Vranich said that “we want to make it as simple as possible for them to buy our product.”
In addition to the payment options, customers have flexibility with the service, as they can skip or shift their deliveries. Before every delivery, the company tells consumers that they are about to be charged and asks if they would like to make any changes, which Barnett said has developed a nice dynamic with customers. This is also convenient for families who are traveling and might not need a delivery.
Little Spoon’s products, which range from single-ingredient purees to textured combinations, are shipped refrigerated. Vranich said they are more nutrient-dense than products on the shelf at the grocery store, and taste as if customers made them at home. Barnett added that organic and natural options in the grocery store might have stabilizers, additives or preservatives.
Another differentiator is the company’s selection of offerings. Barnett said the company uses over 80 different organic ingredients and has a rotating menu of between 25 and 30 baby blends at any given time. Seasonality, too, is a big focus, as Little Spoon offers blends with ingredients depending on the time of year. The products are made in a Southern California kitchen, where the company has partners. “We’re able to quickly get what’s in season,” Vranich said, adding that the company can quickly make a blend and distribute it to customers. (A pumpkin spice blend, for instance, was a huge hit.)
Little Spoon’s offering comes as consumers are demanding more and more fresh products, and can walk into a store and have, say, fresh juices at their fingertips. In other categories, too, there are food services that cater to dogs with nearly every type of dietary restriction (such as pet food subscription service The Farmer’s Dog, which was co-founded by Brett Podolsky, and Ollie, which was co-founded by Gabby Slome). And Vranich noted that consumers want to feed their kids the healthiest possible product – not the same old legacy brand that their parents gave them. The company also recently notched a $7 million investment, suggesting that there may be an opening for baby food startups to serve health-conscious parents.