Messy Monkeys balances nutrition with affordability for US launch

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Manufactured by Australian company Freedom Foods, Messy Monkeys is set to make its US launch.
Manufactured by Australian company Freedom Foods, Messy Monkeys is set to make its US launch.
Finding nutrient-dense snacks becomes more of a challenge for moms once they exit the baby aisle and right around the time 'picky-eater syndrome' sets in. To fill this gap, Messy Monkeys is positioning itself as an affordable and healthy snack for kids rolling out to stores this month.

Messy Monkeys baked whole grain non-GMO sorghum and quinoa bites come in kid-friendly flavors including pizza, cheese, and apple. Each serving of the quinoa and sorghum based snack is made up of 14% protein, 7% fiber, one gram of sugar and less than 100mg of salt.

What parents find in the snacking aisle tends to fall into two camps: either high in sugar, salt, and fat, or pure veggie snacks like puffs, sticks, and chips, Angelo DeBlasio, Freedom Foods North America marketing manager, told FoodNavigator-USA.

“As much as they would like to see their kids eat kale and broccoli puffs, it’s just not realistic in the way that the palate evolves.”​  

Picky eaters or sensitive taste buds?

Some research indicates that being a picky eater may be less about being fussy and more about the number of active tastebuds children have compared to adults. Like other parts of the body, tastebuds seem wear out as we age, suggesting children are more sensitive to different tastes.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition​ in June 2017 gave 49 children and their mothers three different types of blueberries from two different harvests and were asked to select their favorite. In the first harvest, adults and children chose the sweetest berries picked during the first harvest fairly equally, but in the second harvest, the children picked the sweeter fruit, while adults liked each variety equally.

Therefore, kids have more of a discerning palate than adults may be giving them credit for. Freedom Foods (parent company to Messy Monkeys) formulated its products with this taste sensitivity in mind.

“When we looked at flavoring the product, we looked at making sure we didn’t add too much salt, we stayed away from added MSG, and we were able to keep those fat and sugar levels down,”​ DeBlasio said.

“That’s really the preface of the whole brand is to provide goodness to children in a way that doesn’t scare them off.”

Affordable access to better-for-you snacks

According to Freedom Foods, making a product that was both nutritious and affordable for parents in varying income brackets was important to the company as a way to address the prevalence of childhood obesity in the US.

CDC data from 2015-2016 shows that childhood obesity rates have tripled in the US over the last 30 years. To add on to that, a study from the Harvard School of Public Health​ found that eating healthy costs the consumer on average $1.50 more per day or $550 more per person per year.

“We know that cost is a major barrier to making healthy dietary changes, so we made it our mission to not only lower the price of our current healthy cereal range, but to launch a wholesome snacking line that was accessible to everyone”​ Dr. Sonja Kukuljan, Group General Manager of Nutrition at Freedom Foods Group, said.

“The launch of Messy Monkeys is our way to help parents navigate the world of healthy natural foods for kids with affordable and great tasting nutrition, as part of a healthy diet rich in plant foods.”

Messy Monkeys sells its snacks in a 10-pack for $5.99.

“We aspire to be is a ‘lifehack’ for moms,”​ DeBlasio said.  “There are moms out there who are busy, messy themselves, and we want to provide them with the tool so that nutrition for their children is the least of their worries.”

Its distribution partnerships with multiple natural foods retailers will be announced in the next couple of weeks and the Messy Monkeys line will also be sold online through Amazon.

“We’ll be available from the East to the West coast before the end of the year,”​ DeBlasio added.

Interested in continuing the kids nutrition conversation? FoodNavigator-USA's FOOD FOR KIDS Summit will gather the food industry's leading experts to discuss the challenges and opportunities in this dynamic space. See a list of speakers HERE​ and register for the event HERE​. 

FOOD FOR KIDS graphic ideas

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