The three brands picked by the FOOD FOR KIDS team and the editorial staff at FoodNavigator-USA and NutraIngredients-USA to take center stage at this year's FOOD FOR KIDS virtual series are:
- Mission MightyMe (peanut puffs for early allergen introduction);
- CHUM Fruit Bites (clean-label fruit snacks); and
- Good Feeding (Go Well) (DTC baby food underpinned by proprietary technology that preserves colors, flavors, textures and nutrition).
While many of the entrants this year had innovative products (some of which we've showcased in this GALLERY), the three winners also had clearly articulated business plans and go-to-market strategies that impressed our team, coupled with engaging brands and technologies.
On Nov. 11, in the third webinar of our FOOD FOR KIDS series, our three trailblazers will be invited to present to industry veterans Mark Rampolla (Powerplant Ventures), Jon Sebastiani (Sonoma Brands), and Brad Barnhorn (who works with multiple growth-stage food & bev companies as an active board member). They will provide feedback on everything from branding and marketing to fundraising, channel strategies, business models and more.
The three trailblazers will receive:
- A place on the FOOD FOR KIDS program: participation in the Trailblazer session on Nov. 11 (register here to watch)
- Feedback from our expert panel: Mark Rampolla, Jon Sebastiani, and Brad Barnhorn
- A one-on-one video interview with the editorial team that will run on FoodNavigator-USA
TRAILBLAZER: Mission MightyMe
Mission MightyMe is a new food brand striving to prevent food allergies through the careful introduction of peanuts and other common food allergens in infants’ diets.
Co-founded by world-renowned pediatric allergist Dr. Gideon Lack (who led the LEAP study* on food allergy prevention that inspired changes to pediatric feeding guidelines around the globe), food allergy advocate Todd Slotkin (co-founder of FARE, Food Allergy Research & Education) and food allergy parents, Catherine and JJ Jaxon, Mission MightyMe's first product is Proactive Peanut Puffs.
The puffs, which contain the exact amount of recommended peanut protein, dissolve quickly for babies, and also taste delicious, says JJ Jaxon: "There are a handful of other companies in the food allergy prevention space, but they all treat food like medicine, primarily by pushing powdered supplements that require 'dosing.' We believe food is powerful and that while it can impact the body like medicine, it should never feel like taking medicine."
He adds: "Puffs for babies are pretty much all the same – an extruded rice puff, with added sugar and touting 1-2 'health halo' ingredients that actually make up less than 2% of ingredients. MightyMe’s Proactive Peanut Puffs are more than 50% peanut and have a hugely beneficial function."
Right now, the brand is selling direct to consumer via missionmightyme.com and on Amazon.com, and is just starting to talk to bricks & mortar retailers.
"Launching a new brand is difficult anytime, but this phenomenon and many other factors related to the pandemic have made it an even more difficult environment for new brands," concedes Jaxon.
"That said, we believe very strongly that this trend is temporary. The human spirit is curious and adventuresome, and always looking for better, more innovative options. We believe strongly that as the impact of the pandemic subsides, that curiosity and desire for better foods with greater functionality will shine through again."
*The 2015 LEAP study showed that if you deliberately expose infants at high risk of peanut allergy (babies with severe eczema, an allergy to egg, or both) to peanuts in early life, they are far less likely to develop allergies.
TRAILBLAZER: CHUM Fruit Bites
CHUM Fruit Bites founder (and former GoGo squeeZ exec) Benjamin Bartley says parents "want cleaner ingredient lists, a sustainable story, breakthrough benefits not yet seen and above all, originality."
And unlike most fruit snacks for kids, he says, CHUM Fruit Bites contain 100% fruit, and nothing else. Designed as a healthier alternative to candy, the fruit triangles inside each pack are soft biting and sweet tasting from the fruits' natural fructose, with 50 calories per serving.
"CHUM Fruit Bites are unique in the fruit snacks category given the short and clean ingredient list," says Bartley. "We don't boil up concentrates and use fillers and emulsifiers (as leading fruit snack brands) in a matter of minutes; we gently bake for over 12 hours fruit puree slowly removing water content to leave a soft biting natural tasting product."
Packaged in biodegradable primary packaging and forestry responsible secondary packaging, the bites are available via chumbites.com and on Amazon, and are now listed with UNFI, KeHE, DPI and others for delivery to retailers including Kroger, Smart & Final and Hy-Vee, says Bartley. "Costco NE is approved for on shelf in Q1 2021."
During the early weeks of the pandemic, retailers and consumers alike "wanted tried and trusted brands covering needs from comfort food (to increase security) to indulgent treats (to relieve the pain)," he acknowledges.
"I do believe, however, as normality slowly returns, some of the bigger (food) brands will again start to lose relevance as they are unable to pioneer the emerging consumers' needs."
Driven by Bartley's passion for shark conservation, CHUM gives back 15% of profits to wildaid.org to help protect animals and end the illegal wildlife trade, he explains: "The animals featured on our packs are endangered and need our help."
"To date we have had a positive reaction from many small regional retailers and independents and Kroger and Costco have listed us without any supporting IRI data (which will come soon)." Benjamin Bartley, CHUM Fruit Bites
TRAILBLAZER: Good Feeding (Go Well)
Go Well chilled baby food from New Zealand-based Good Feeding LLC, is launching direct to consumer in the USA this fall, says co-founder Phil McGrath, who is using a "unique suite of exclusive technologies never used before in baby food."
He adds: "This technology suite delivers a minimally thermally processed, chilled, long-life product with up to 6 months' chilled shelf life. Our subscription model and small batch production allows us to produce and deliver food in a timely fashion so it’s consumed within a month of production, maximizing its quality and nutritional content.
"Our superior color, flavor, texture and nutritionally dense foods are the biggest disruption of low-sugar and low-acid baby foods in more than a decade. It's disruptive, scalable, personalized and convenient.
"USA market validation shows an 80% concept appeal and a 28% intent to purchase. Seventy-eight percent of pediatric professionals believe our offering would be valuable to the parents they counsel."
In late September, Good Feeding commissioned a purpose-built production facility and produced its first safe foods. Later this month it goes to market with its first 200 parents backed by the support of over 100 healthcare professionals.
Each Go Well subscription comes with a weekly step-by-step guide detailing the when, what and how to feed your baby. The program uses the flavor training window of opportunity prior to weaning and exposes babies to a range of different flavors and textures, to gain acceptance and build healthy eating preferences.
FOOD FOR KIDS: What are you feeding yours?
We’ve got an amazing lineup of speakers at this year’s FOOD FOR KIDS series, from Nestlé and Kraft Heinz, to L.A. Libations, Poppilu, Ripple Foods, Wundernuggets, Rebellyous Foods, Tofurky, and Iconic Protein.
FOOD FOR KIDS: Five webinars over five weeks... every Wednesday at noon CT
In week #1 (The consumer panel, Oct 21), we open with a panel of parents from across the country exploring how COVID-19 has upended routines and impacted food shopping and eating habits.
In week #2 (Kids and the plant-based trend, Oct 28), we’ll take a deep dive into one of the hottest trends in food right now – plant-based – and explore whether, and how, brands in this space should reach children. Are kids eating Beyond Burgers and drinking oatmilk? Should they? And what do parents interested in these products look for on labels?
In week #3 (Kids’ beverage trends, Nov 4), we’ll explore what children are drinking (vs what should they be drinking), the sweet spot for sugar levels in beverages that kids enjoy (and parents can feel good about), the size of the kids’ beverage market, and how to position a kids’ beverage brand.
In week #4 (Meet the trailblazers - Nov 11) CHUM Fruit Bites, Mission MightyMe and Good Feeding (Go Well) - the three winners of our trailblazers initiative highlighting innovative emerging brands - will present their wares to industry veterans Mark Rampolla, Jon Sebastiani and Brad Barnhorn.
In week #5 (Meeting kids’ nutritional needs, Nov 18) we’ll explore kids’ nutritional needs from the first 1,000 days (conception to two years) to early childhood and the teen years, and what nutritional gaps should caretakers consider.