“There is a push back against pouches because children can’t touch and feel their food or experience the texture, and they aren’t learning how to feed themselves,” Jason Becker, founder and CEO of Nosh, told FoodNavigator-USA.
In response, Nosh’s first product line of Munchables, which are rice crackers that double as teething wafers, were designed to “actually teach kids fine motor skills because they are able to feel it, they touch it and feed themselves. Essentially, they put it in their own mouths and so it is a lot better than having mom put a spoonful of food in their mouth.”
This is the same with all of the company’s existing products, which includes puffs, gummies and Smoothie Snaps, which are organic freeze-dried fruit puree snacks that children can grab and eat, he said.
The brand will take the notion of teaching children while they eat to the next level on April 1 when it launches in Target shaped Munchables that are designed to teach children different shapes, such as squares and hexagons, Becker said.
In addition, it will launch a line of Baby Munchable Dippers, which will combine the Munchable rice crackers with small tubs of organic fruit and veggie purees that babies can dip the crackers into – further developing their hand-eye coordination and motor skills, Becker said.
Later this summer, the brand will launch in Target Cruncheese, which are organic, crunchy cheese snacks that will be another shape for children to learn, Becker said.
Black packaging makes products pop on shelf
The young brand also stands apart from the competition with memorable packaging featuring diverse children enjoying its products on a black background with white writing that recalls early lessons taught on a chalkboard.
“Our packaging is so much different than everyone else’s packaging,” Becker said, noting that many existing players gravitate towards white backgrounds – creating a contrast where Nosh’s packaging “really pops as the only black packaging on the baby food aisle.”
He noted the design particularly appeals to millennial parents who also are looking for products that are healthy and organic.
Fresh food at home and on-the-go
Looking forward the brand plans to move beyond packaged foods to offer fresh meal kits and tools to help parents make food and snacks at home for their babies and toddlers.
“There is definitely a bigger portion of the population that is making fresh food,” that stems partly out of a desire to feed children wholesome, nutrient dense meals that were not made before the child was born, Becker said, noting that many pouched and jarred foods have a shelf life of two years.
To help parents more easily prepare fresh food at home, Nosh will launch in the third or fourth quarter of 2018 a food processor that parents will buy at stores such as Buy Buy Baby or Babies “R” Us that will be paired with a subscription meal kit service that will send pre-portioned and prepped ingredients direct to consumers’ doors, Becker said.
Nosh’s smart feeding line also will include tableware, flatware, prep tools such as a masher and novelty tools, and food storage containers.
Further on the horizon are additional new products, including a food puree bar that will take the brand into food service. Becker envisions the bar being inside retailers such as Target, similar to how Starbucks kiosks are located inside larger retailers.
“Just like how parents can get a coffee while they are shopping, they will be able to buy fresh baby food puree” to either feed their child immediately while on-the-go, or take home as a fresh meal for later in the week, he said.
Managing supplies and expectations
With so many SKUs and products in adjacent categories, Becker admits that his biggest challenge is ensuring he has sufficient supply to meet the brand’s growing demand.
“Suppliers often tell us they will have a product ready at a certain time, the reality is everyone is always late. So, you know, we have learned our lesson the hard way a couple of times when we promised stores we would have a new product on a certain date for a category reset and then we are two to three weeks late because the supplier is late,” Becker said.
While the brand is growing fast, it is still too small to exert much pressure on suppliers to stick to their stated timelines, Becker said. As a result, he said, the brand has learned to “build in a big buffer for our supplies.”
But in terms of managing a larger operation with multiple moving parts, Becker says he is ready because he has experience stocking and selling hundreds of SKUs for his online baby product business Babyhaven.com, which offers baby clothes, strollers, pacifiers and more.
“We have a strong network and expertise in selling products online and through other channels, and we are used to managing 1,500 SKUs in the warehouse,” Becker said, adding that based on this experience “we are able to make it work” as Luv2Nosh rapidly expands its portfolio and distribution.