VIDEO Meet Brainiac... brainfood for kids: 'We need to be Captain Obvious'

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Expo west

Food and beverage brands targeting kids often promote their low sugar content, or highlight calcium for bones and protein for growing bodies. But what about the nutrients kids need to support the development of arguably their most important asset: the brain?

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the Natural Products Expo West show, founders Jonathan Wolfson (founder of microalgae-fueled business TerraVia​) and Mark Brooks (formerly SVP food and ingredients at TerraVia) believe there is a clear gap in the market for a brand targeting kids on a brain health platform.

And the brand name of their new venture - Brainiac Kids - spells this out in the simplest terms, said Wolfson: “We need to be Captain Obvious.

“We want people to understand that it’s not just about calcium for kids’ bones and protein for their muscles. Their most important asset sits between their ears and Brainiac tells people right up front that it supports brain development, and people get it when they look at the packaging.”

We’ve created Brainiac Kids to be mainstream

The choice of whole milk yogurt - rather than some more exotic product - as a delivery vehicle for the company’s initial product platform was also about keeping things simple and easy for parents, said Wolfson, who has raised a significant [undisclosed] sum to get the new venture off the ground.

Yogurt is something they eat every day… and kids love yogurt, and so if you give them yogurts in the flavors and the formats they know that also have the critical brain nutrients, it’s an easy change for a parent.”

Co-founder Mark Brooks added: “We’ve created Brainiac Kids to be mainstream … this is a need state for every kid, we want to help as many kids as possible reach their full potential, which means that we have to make it accessible physically, but also from a price point.  

“Any category we go into with brain food we want it to be something that kids already love… and so you’ll see us go across categories.”

The origins story

Brainiac products contain 120mg choline​, 160mg ALA omega-3 from flaxseed, and 130mg DHA omega-3 from algae per 4oz serving.

Sugar is dialed down by using a small amount of monk fruit, while protein is dialed up with added milk protein concentrate, said Wolfson, whose wife gave birth to their third child after he left TerraVia last year, pushing infant nutrition to the top of mind for him on a personal level, which in turn stimulated his entrepreneurial juices.

“My third child was born, my wife couldn’t breastfeed and we had a little crisis in the house… so we pulled together some experts who told me that it wasn’t my youngest we needed to worry about, who would be just fine if we gave him formula​ [which typically contains long chain omega-3 fatty acid DHA], it was my older kids.

“Unless we were giving them salmon, and broccoli and cauliflower and walnuts and a whole host of things we weren’t giving our older kids, they weren’t getting what they needed for brain development, and Brainiac Kids was born.”


Read more HERE​ ​about Brainiac Kids, who will be speaking at FoodNavigator-USA's FOOD FOR KIDS summit​ in Chicago on November 18-20. Learn more HERE​ about the three-day summit, a must-attend event for anyone supplying foods to pregnant mothers, babies, toddlers, young children and teenagers.


brainiac details
Brainiac Kids products come in four flavors: Strawberry Banana, Strawberry, Mixed Berry and Cherry Vanilla and are claimed to have 40-50% less sugar and 50% more protein than leading kids’ yogurts on a per ounce basis. They are also Non GMO Project verified (using milk from cows not fed GM feed).

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