SCARSDALE, N.Y.– The $2 billion dollar U.S. baby food industry is driven primarily by a growth in organic baby food products. Interestingly, even with this growth in organic options, there has still been a rise in unhealthy eating habits and childhood obesity. One out of every three kids ages 2-19 is obese and nearly 20% of kids ages 2-4 are picky eaters. Experts now believe there is a direct correlation between picky eating and the unhealthy habits that lead to health issues.
Dr. Mary Versfelt, a pediatrician and former clinical professor at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in New York, explains that for years bland, flavorless purees were recommended as the ideal first foods for babies, contributing unintentionally to creating a generation of picky eaters. “Today, we know that eating is a learned behavior, and we begin to train our palates the very moment we take our first bite. We are not born disliking broccoli or having an aversion to kale,” she added.
For decades, parents and baby food brands have masked vegetables in children’s meals. At the heart of this approach is the notion that children have an innate resistance to vegetables and will only eat them if baked into desserts or mixed with fruit. Under this premise, kids are taught to have a preference for the sweet foods that are used to trick them and not for the foods that are good for them. From an industry perspective, little has been done to shape infant nutritional preferences and encourage healthier choices.
Fresh Bellies is filling this void with its holistic approach to baby food. Made with organic ingredients, the company created a line of fresh, preservative-free and tastefully seasoned baby food that accentuates bold flavors and never masks its vegetables with sweet fruit. Fresh Bellies innovates the space with ingredients like cauliflower, bell peppers, and Swiss chard, and seasons with herbs and spices like garlic, without turning to added sugar or salt. At its core, Fresh Bellies’ disruptive mission is training baby palates to become accustomed to a variety of flavors, colors and textures from the very first bite.
“Picky eaters are made, not born,” says Saskia Sorrosa, Founder of Fresh Bellies and mom of two. “If we broaden children’s horizons and train them to be curious, healthy eaters, we can change the prospects of future generations and their relationship to food.” According to Sorrosa, “The baby food space has yet to address unmasked veggies and savory flavors as the path to raising a new generation of adventurous eaters.”
Fresh Bellies’ signature packaging is another product differentiator. Its PVC and BPA-free containers are clear, making it easy for parents to see what they are buying and for babies to see what they are eating. Sorrosa partnered with a leading design agency to develop custom packaging that is practical and speaks to the company’s overall mission of encouraging healthy eating and developing fine motor skills. Sorrosa made a conscious decision to deviate from the pouch, an industry standard in the baby food aisle, and instead each Fresh Bellies cup features a custom lid with a nestled spoon for on–the-go convenience.
“The full sensory experience of a spoonful of real food cannot be matched,” added Dr. Versfelt. “Babies need adequate nutrition for their physical and cognitive development, from preventing childhood obesity and diabetes to creating a healthier foundation for their adult palates.”
Sorrosa began selling her products at local farmers’ markets in Westchester County, New York near her home in 2015. Since then, Fresh Bellies has enjoyed solid distribution across the New York tristate area with major retailers in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey carrying the product. Fresh Bellies looks to expand its distribution nationally in 2017.
About Fresh Bellies
Founded in 2015, Fresh Bellies is creating a new generation of healthful, adventurous eaters starting with a baby’s very first bite. The line of organic baby food is the first and only brand that doesn’t mask its vegetables with fruit and uses herbs and spices to develop flavors and open up a baby’s palate. Please visit www.freshbellies.com for product information, a list of locations, and the company’ blog and opinion pieces on topics ranging from food, to parenting and child development.