Happy Family’s new CEO will stay the course to grow in baby food & adjacent categories

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Happy Family’s new CEO will stay the course to grow in baby food

Related tags Infant

When Anne Laraway takes the reins of the fastest growing baby food brand in the country in January as the new CEO of Happy Family Organics, she plans to expand its reach into new markets with new products while remaining “laser focused on our mission to improve early childhood nutrition.”

Laraway told FoodNavigator-USA she is “thrilled by the opportunity to steer Happy Family forward,”​ and she sees “the most significant opportunity we have [as] the one we felt we’ve always had – to continue to meet the needs of today’s new parents and be there for them whenever and wherever they need nutritional support.”

While she is excited about the company’s growth potential and the prospect of changing the paradigm of early life nutrition by reaching more babies and parents through broader scale, Laraway said, “the biggest challenges we face is growing in such a way that remains true to our core identity as leaders in the baby food market.”

To that end, Laraway likely will pull on her experience at the company, which includes diverse roles and responsibilities such as her most recent position leading business development. She also likely will draw on her experience as a mother of two young children, which also will continue the company’s legacy of being led by “real moms.”

Building on a history of strong growth

Laraway will replace Happy Family’s Founder, Chief Mom and current CEO Shazi Visram, under whose leadership the brand grew from just five SKUs when it launched on Mother’s day in 2006 to more than 100, and which generated revenues close to $200 million in 2017, with 2018 projections of more than $250 million.

Visram attributes the brand’s rapid growth to the company’s commitment to listen deeply to its customers.

“Everything we bring to market is thoughtfully crafted to align with what real moms and parents would serve their own children, and this ethos starts internally with our staff of mothers and parents, including myself,”​ she told FoodNavigator-USA, adding, “deep listening ensures we are always creating relevant and exciting products.”

This strategy has helped the company not only survive but also thrive in a competitive category that Visram describes as experiencing “seismic shifts over the last 15 years.”

She explained: “Happy Family has always been conscious that consumer needs are ever changing, and so we made it our mission early on to continue innovating in anticipation of consumer needs. I think this has made all the difference between Happy Family and the many market entrants I’ve seen come and go during my tenure.”

Happy Family has trail blazed changes in baby food

It also helped the company confidently make the leap from baby food jars to pouches in 2007 when only two other companies had made the transition, Visram said, adding, “Now pouches are table stakes for relevancy in our market, and nearly every brand has them.”

Happy Family also took pouches to the next level under Visram’s leadership with the March 2016 launch of Happy Baby Clearly Crafted, which is a line of transparent pouches that let parents see what is in their baby’s food.

“Almost instantly, Clearly Crafted became the market’s highest selling product lineup and propelled Happy Family into our infant feeding line of products and resources,”​ Visram said.

She promised that the company’s innovative spirit will remain strong after she steps aside with several “breakthrough developments on the horizon”​ for 2018.

Happy Family earns consumer trust by offering more than baby food

The company’s growth and longevity also can be attributed to the deep trust and loyalty it earned from consumers in a part by providing informational resources, mentors and support, Visram added.

“Families don’t just rely on us to provide proper nutrition for their little ones, they also come for our 360-degree support and knowledge of the industry,”​ she said.

While these accomplishments are notable, Visram says they are not the one of which she is proudest during her tenure. Rather, she said her “biggest accomplishment is knowing that the lives of children and families around the world have been bettered, if only in some small way, because of my efforts at Happy Family.”

She explained, “My dream was to create an enlightened brand of organic foods that offer proper nutrition of every stage of development, and we’ve been able to make a very tangible impact in a short amount of time.”

‘Anything is possible’

Reflecting on her success, Visram says, “anything is possible if you set your mind to it and are willing to put in the time to accomplish your goals.”

However, she advises other entrepreneurs that in order to succeed “it’s imperative to stay focused on what you set out to do, because there ae sure to be plenty of bumps in the road that try to knock you off course. Happy Family has been able to weather challenges and build a trustworthy brand because we’ve always stayed true to our core beliefs.”

As for the company’s future, she says she is confident in Laraway’s leadership and instinctive knowledge of Happy Family’s core beliefs.

“I can’t imagine anyone better suited to lead the company to new heights!”

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