Unlike consumers experimenting with meal kits a couple of times a week, busy parents struggling to satisfy competing demands from different family members across multiple meal times, are significantly more likely to stick with a subscription plan that provides everything their baby needs week in, week out, even if it is more expensive than going to the store, notes founder Katie Thomson MS, RD (Square Baby meals average at about $5/meal).
“It’s a unique time in your life, when everyone is eating at different times, and you’re exhausted, so having someone deliver 100% daily nutrition to your door is just one less thing to think about. I wanted to provide foods like the home made food that I didn’t have the time or energy to make for my own children.”
The company was built to alleviate every pain point I had as a mother
But what’s wrong with buying babyfood from the store, especially as more brands emerge offering ‘fresher’ more premium, ‘tastes like home made,’ products thanks to technologies such as HPP?
Nothing, says Thomson - a registered dietitian who served as Starbucks’ first nutritionist and has since consulted for national brands such as Red Robin and Hilton and startups including NatureBox - who launched Square Baby last month with co-founder Kendall Glynn, MS, CGC.
“There are definitely more organic and fresh options now, and more superfoods, but more Millennial parents are shopping online and want food delivered to their door. From my own experience [Thomson had her first baby in 2008 while working at Starbucks], I felt that I needed to combine a bunch of products to give my baby what I felt was a square or balanced diet, and I remember feeling overwhelmed by the sea of sameness; no brand seemed to be making things easy for me.
“Some products are just fruits and veggies, and some just fruits and grains, so how do you know your baby’s getting enough protein or veggie servings in a day? This company was built to alleviate every pain point I had as a mother and provide complete balanced nutrition.”
“Many organic pouches marketed as healthy have more sugar than a donut. Our little ones are growing up on applesauce with a sprinkling of superfoods, which is unknowingly creating the next generation of sugar addicts...
"I never really set out to build a company, but after I had my first baby, I started doing a bunch of research, and created 100% daily nutrition meal systems that offers babies all their servings of fruit, veggies, whole grains, and proteins based on USDA recommendations.
“Square Baby provides parents a foolproof way to offer complete daily nutrition through truly balanced meals that are super-delicious and include a wide variety of whole foods, healthy fats, herbs and spices to help develop adventurous little eaters right from the start.”
Katie Thomson, founder, Square Baby
100% daily nutrition
She added: “Protein was a big sticking point for me. I found myself buying this little shelf-stable jar of chicken for my son; it was the most disgusting thing you’ve ever seen, but I wanted him to have some protein that he could chew and swallow.
“So I’ve made a big effort to include a variety of protein sources such as salmon and organic eggs in the Square Baby products,” which are made fresh, immediately frozen, shipped frozen in recyclable and re-sealable, plastic jars and delivered every two weeks to customers on the west coast, she added.
“There’s a lot of new research about the benefits of earlier introduction of allergens such as eggs, but we also use yogurt, beans and lentils, high quality bone broth, and fish. We’ve also incorporated sprouted grains, which have higher nutrient quality and they are easier to digest, and we keep our eye on sugar content.”
While babies love fruits, some brands tend to overuse cheaper fruit ingredients such as apples, creating products that are more sugary than many parents realize, said Thomson. Square Baby meals contain 0-7 grams of sugar with an average of 4g, all from organic fruit, while many competitors come in at 8-16g, she claimed.
“What I also love about the direct to consumer model is that I can control the entire experience. We can walk consumers through a very customized experience that takes into account age and dietary considerations and customize a meal plan that works for them, if they are looking at products with more iron, for example, or their baby has a food allergy [Square Baby also highlights products with certain features some parents are actively seeking such as ‘Iron + Vitamin C,’ ‘Healthy Fats,’ ‘Fiber,’ ‘Omega-3’s’ or ‘Herbs and Spices’].”
Beyond baby food
Given that Square Baby only launched last month (the products are produced at a certified organic commercial kitchen in the Bay Area by Thomson; her co-founder Kendall Glynn, MS, CGC; and a chef), it’s too early to provide any useful metrics, but Thomson said she is “seeing orders come in and we’re already seeing a bunch of requests to expand to nearby markets.”
While the initial focus is on baby food, Thomson is also aware that her customers – however loyal - will grow out of her product as their babies get older, and says longer-term plans could include products that keep these customers engaged.
“The name of the company is Square Foods and that was deliberate, although we’re focused on baby food for now.”
What will the babyfood market look like in five years' time?
Find out at the FoodNavigator-USA FOOD FOR KIDS summit in Chicago November 12-14, where experts from baby food brands including Nurture Life, Once Upon a Farm, Little Dish and Happy Family will discuss what's next for the category. Get full details and book your tickets HERE.