“Every retailer we speak to is looking at HPP baby food [which must be refrigerated] because the babyfood category is getting stale and they want to refresh it," said Eberle, who launched PureSpoon in 2015 after having a baby of her own and feeling dissatisfied with the products on offer.
"There are lots of working parents out there that are still making their own baby food because they can’t get what they want in store, and retailers see that.
“So then it’s a question of where to put it. Kroger will be putting us in coolers in the babyfood section, like Target, while Walmart will be putting us in the dairy/yogurt section. We’re used to being the lone wolf in there but I’ve heard that there’s some other brands coming in, which of course we welcome… to a degree. Hy-Vee is going to test us in the baby aisle in some stores and also in the dairy aisle.
"When the rollouts are complete it will take us up to about 1,000 stores."
Dairy is a surprisingly good place for us
But are babyfood shoppers going to the dairy aisle, and won’t the products get lost in there without clear signposting?
While parents might not be looking for babyfood in the dairy aisle, she said, they are shopping the aisle: “Dairy is a surprisingly good place for us. Moms are shopping there but also people are buying it for their older kids or for themselves or for elderly parents. But we also support the product wherever we do a launch.”
High Pressure Processing (HPP) – whereby foods or beverages are put into a high-pressure chamber that is flooded with cold water and pressurized (‘cold-pressured’) to kill pathogens without heat - enables Texas-based Pure Spoon to produce baby food in custom-made recyclable 4.2oz containers that tastes exactly like the stuff you’d make at home, with no preservatives or added flavors, and a shelf-life long enough to secure national distribution, says PureSpoon founder Alyson Eberle, who reckons refrigerated products will rapidly become an established part of the category.
Parents are willing to pay a premium
The fact that Walmart is giving Pure Spoon shelf space reflects not just confidence in the brand – which is now able to share encouraging velocity data from other leading retailers - said Eberle, but that refrigerated baby food really is hitting the mainstream.
It’s obviously cheaper to make your own baby food, but a lot of parents just don’t have the time and energy to do it, she said, and while Pure Spoon is more expensive than Gerber or Plum Organics, a growing number of consumers clearly think the extra dollar is worth it.
“We’re prototyping multipacks for the club channel and looking at every way to make our products affordable and accessible but we’re not going to move away from organic ingredients.”
As for online ordering, “It was cost prohibitive when we first started looking at it but we kept revisiting it because that’s what people want,” said Eberle, who has just struck a deal with Amazon Launchpad, which is designed to showcase innovative young brands via a more streamlined onboarding experience, custom product pages, a comprehensive marketing package, and access to Amazon’s global fulfillment network.
Consumers can also buy samplers of up to 22 products via Pure Spoon’s own website (with a flat $10 shipping fee), she said. “It’s expensive to ship perishables, but we’ve found an option that works for us that isn’t cost prohibitive.”
Financial and strategic partners
There will be news on the financing front very shortly, added Eberle, who said: “We have financial and strategic partners coming in as we speak, who are excited about our growth projections.”
As for new products, the next step is developing products beyond stage one and two baby food, along with an adult line of smoothies utilizing HPP technology, she said.