The brainchild of San Diego-based entrepreneurs Cassandra Curtis and Ari Raz – both of whom had set up babyfood businesses of their own before joining forces in early 2015 – Once Upon a Farm is an organic babyfood brand in a HPP-treated pouch that is merchandised next to squeezy yogurts in the dairy case or in standalone fridges in the babyfood aisle.
Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the Healthy & Natural Show at Chicago's Navy Pier last week, Raz predicted that high-pressure-processing (HPP) would play a disruptive role in the baby food market in the next five years as retailers saw the incremental sales opportunity to bring in consumers that currently make their own baby food rather than buy the shelf-stable variety.
Right now, a lot of the retailers are trying to figure out who is the appropriate buyer
However, having a refrigerated product in a shelf stable category isn't easy, he said: "Right now, a lot of the retailers are trying to figure out who is the appropriate buyer for a babyfood that belongs in the refrigerated asection, so we approach both the dairy and the baby food buyer, and in some cases they are building out a refigerated kids set in dairy and in others, looking at installing refrigerators in the baby food section."
But what’s so special about HPP-treated babyfood in the first place? The taste, the texture, the color, the aroma, and the nutrition, claimed Raz, who said many parents aren’t happy with products in jars and pouches that have in many cases been heated twice (first the purees, then the final product).”
Our products taste like fresh homemade purees
As for formulations, Once Upon a Farm (which has a 120-day shelf-life) is free of concentrates, preservatives and processed purees, but is also unusual in that most options include a source of healthy fat (chia seeds, hemp seeds, avocado, extra virgin unrefined coconut oil), he said.
"Our products taste like fresh homemade purees. We don't use any concentrates, any pre-processed purees. In terms of product quality we're not willing to compromise. It's expensive, but as we work with more partners and we are able to source directly from farms, it will help keep our ingredients costs down and keep the quality at the level we have to maintain."