By Jo Saker
Spend any time with new parents and it’s quickly apparent that some are more relaxed than others in their approach to nurturing their little ones through the joys and bumps of the first few years. However, they all want to give their new baby the best start for a healthy, happy life and feel good about the food choices they make.
There is no shortage of information or advice. The pressure to keep up with the latest information and make the best choices is hard to avoid. So what are brands doing to reassure parents that they are playing their part in providing for a healthy start?
The baby food aisle has changed significantly over recent years. Natural, wholesome ingredients with no added nasties, interesting recipes and flavour combinations are now the norm. You no longer have to hunt for an organic option. There’s a wide choice. Convenient pouches and resealable packs are readily available. And brands are now growing up with their eaters, offering snacks and meals for toddlers too.
It’s taken time, but the widening range of healthy options we enjoy as adults has reached the baby aisle. Freefrom, superfoods, ancient grains and healthier snacking have been interpreted for little ones.
Parents can now choose positive benefits, beyond organic and no additive claims, in their quest for the best. Only last August Serenity Kids in the US launched baby meals inspired by the Paleo diet which are dairy, grain and soy free and high in protein and healthy fats from animals raised humanely on small local American farms.
It’s not just about ingredients. Brands now offer benefits relating to the process they use. Once Upon a Farm and Pure Spoon in the US, Savse and Little Spoon in the UK and Switzerland’s Yamo for example, all preserve the nutritional value, vibrant flavours and colours of ‘real’ chilled food through cold pressure rather than heat. They are ‘made different’ to offer a freshness benefit ‘so your food is never older than your baby’. Of course, a short shelf life also demands a rethink of how the products are shopped. Chillers in the baby aisle? Dedicated space in the dairy chiller? Home delivery? It’s changing the way we shop. It’s changing expectations.
Packaging itself can enrich the way we think and feel about a brand. Tubs and pots that capture the fresh from the fridge message and suggest ‘proper’ meals rather than snacks; substrates that are environmentally considerate with a focus on recycling, recyclability and education. And as the plastic debate rages, new and inventive materials such as “Puracoat” – a sustainable barrier on food packaging – become an effective option to conventional plastic tubs, especially within the chiller. So, what next for baby food brands that seek to win our trust?
Could more recent adult food trends represent interesting territories for foods that give babies the best start in life? Plant-based proteins are in the spotlight as is positively affecting gut health through diet. We hear about neuro nutrition with brain boosting ingredients like turmeric, salmon, eggs, dandelion greens and jicama. And the link between food and mood and using food as medicine may well appeal to new parents.
Surely though, real trust is earned rather than won and providing your baby with the best start, really is just the start. As the saying goes “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children”. Successful brands will need to stay relevant; to nurture their audience and be more responsible for the packaging solutions that play an increasingly important part in building a more sustainable future.