“Pouches are so popular because they are convenient and convenience, as you know, in America is key. And for businesses, everyone wants to do what is more convenient for the parent,” Kristen Smaida, one of three co-founders of Little Roots Puree, told FoodNavigator-USA at the Good Food Festival in Chicago late last month.
At the same time, pouches can have downsides, Smaida claimed, arguing that pouches are “not environmentally friendly, number one, and number two, actually more important, are not good for the baby’s development.”
She claimed that the individual pouches used by many large baby food companies contribute a large amount of waste to landfills. Instead of contributing to this, Little Roots has opted for stand-up pouches that use 12% less laminated film than most other packaging bags, which means less waste in landfills, less weight and less fuel for transportation.
The multi-serve pouches also are made with 40% recycled material and can be reused to make park benches and tires, Smaida said.
Do pouches hinder children’s development?
The frozen bulbs created by Little Roots also are better for children’s development than pouches, Smaida claimed.
“Babies actually have the natural instinct to suck … so they don’t necessarily need to learn that. What they need to do learn is how to feed themselves. They need to learn textures, feeling things in their fingers and their mouths. So it is like a really important motor skill, and when companies are just pouching food, it hinders that ability because … they are not using those skills,” she said.
As a result, babies can have delayed development in eating and the transition of eating table food is not as easy, she claimed.
Little Roots bulbs, alternatively, can be thawed and served in a dish as a puree that children can use their hands to eat – helping them develop those necessary motor skills and explore the smell and texture of food, as well as the taste.
Packaging the frozen bulbs in a clear stand-up pouch also allows parents to see what they are feeding their child – something that is not possible with many pouches, Smaida said.
Reusable pouches offer conveniences with fewer downsides
While the company has worked hard to counter the pouch movement, it also recognizes that sometimes parents need the most convenient option. In these cases, the company encourages parents to use reusable pouches made by a company called Little Monsters.
The pouches open at the bottom, allowing parents to simply pop in on of Little Root’s bulbs, reseal the pouch and pass it to their child, Smaida said.
She added, “you can run it in the dishwasher when you are done, and keep using at as many times as you want.”
In addition to the bulbs, Little Roots also sells their products as frozen Tot Pops that children – or adults and even pets – can eat immediately.
This format has an added benefit of enticing slightly older children who may not be as willing to eat beets and spinach to eat their vegetables, Smaida said.