FOOD FOR KIDS trailblazer Good Feeding: Vegetable-forward baby food tackles childhood obesity

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food for kids trailblazers

Rising consumer concern about the long-term detrimental impact on children’s health and palate development from baby food overly-sweetened or predominately packed with fruit is opening the door for a new cohort of entrepreneurs promoting vegetable- and meat-forward single-ingredient and blended options.

Among them is New Zealand-based Good Feeding, one of three winners of FoodNavagitor-USA’s Food For Kids’ Trailblazer competition, which is launching soon in the US with a subscription model that offers high-quality, minimally processed chilled baby food. It also offers a complete program that guides parents in how to safely and effectively introduce new flavors and textures to children so that, according to the company, they can “move beyond sweet and sail past salty to discover bitter is better, the power of sour and that even umami is a flavor to savor.”

Horrified that 25% of US children are overweight or obese, Good Feeding co-founder and CEO Phil McGrath says he is eager to bring his Go Well products and unique palate training approach to the US so that caregivers break the cycle of sugar addiction which he says begins before children can even eat solids.

Children “start life on sweet milk, be that formula or breast milk, and then we give them more sweet in the way of fruit, right, and more sweet and more sweet and more sweet. And then we’re trying to work out why they’re coming out with obesity issues or addition to sugar.”

As an industry veteran he said he knows that many baby food brands favor high acid, high sugar and overcooked food to increase the safety and shelf life of the finished product, but he says continuing to take this approach when the consequences are so negative is “lazy.”

“We really felt that we could look at this ecosystem and change this ecosystem,”​ McGrath said.

A multi-prong approach

To successfully change this ecosystem, Good Feeding takes a multi-prong approach with its Go Well program. First, it offers food with flavors and textures that often are overlooked by the competition and providing them in the most nutritious, yet safe, format possible.

“We’re very much about low acid foods,”​ which means “straight vegetables by themselves and getting some meat components in there, but not all the high fruits, because we want our children to learn to accept better vegetables like broccoli, which when prepared the right way are quite flavorsome,”​ McGrath said.

But to do this, he said, Go Well invested “millions of dollars worth of research”​ to create a proprietary cooking process that gently cooks vegetables as quickly as possible to kill dangerous bacteria, but also preserve their nutrition.  The end result is a chilled product that, while sealed, safely preserves the benefits, color and flavor of each food. The company also avoids adding water, which can quickly fill small stomachs and dilute or displace nutrients.

The second prong in Good Feeding’s Go Well approach is to provide parents with the training and tools they need to understand their children’s reactions to those flavors and textures. It does this with a 24-week program detailing what flavors, textures and foods parents should introduce at each step to ensure their children appreciate a diverse range of flavors and get the nutrition they need.

“Every week it turns up and says, ‘this is what you need to feed your baby at this stages,’”​ and it tells caregivers what “signals” to watch for to know if a new food upsets a baby’s stomach and they should contact a pediatrician, or if they should keep trying to expose their child to a new food with the expectation that after so many ‘yucks’ the chances of a ‘yum’ increase, McGrath explains.

In addition, the program shares feeding “tricks,” not for sneaking vegetables into their children’s diet, but to know what different facial expressions mean and to tell when their child is too full to try something new. It also connects consumers with a pediatric nutritionist or dietician for a 30 minute consult, McGrath said.

DTC: Balancing consumer convenience with consumer acquisition

Good Feeding packages all of this in an direct-to-consumer subscription delivery service that offers consumers convenience and allows the company to tightly manage its margins by accurately knowing how much of each of its 56 SKUs to make and ship just in time.

However, the downside to DTC can be the high cost of customer acquisition, which Good Feeding is addressing in part through partnerships and community building.

“We have a very, very wide funnel. We’re working with a massive database of pediatricians to start feeding those sales funnels,”​ and connecting patients or consumers with Go Well, McGrath explained. Likewise, the company is working with public health advocates, including Partnership for a Healthier America, which is a trusted source by parents and recently launched a campaign ​to promote vegetable consumption.

McGrath said Good Feeding also is able to more easily acquire consumers than competitors because it offers more value than price per ounce of food.

He explained, the real value is providing consumers’ peace of mind by explaining to consumers what to expect and when, how to feed their child and connecting them with healthcare providers and nutritionists so they better understand how best to shape their child’s diet and health.

A future full of potential

Looking forward, McGrath said Good Feeding is hoping to raise funds in 2021 to help it expand distribution, develop and launch new products, as well as continue to support parents with the education they need.

Specifically, the company is working to expand in the US and beyond, roll out new products not just for babies but also toddlers and older children, improve its environmental footprint and give more to the larger communities it serves, McGrath said.

FOOD FOR KIDS: Meet the 2020 trailblazers

From bubbly probiotic water for kids to chickpea butter, ketchup with extra veggies, and goat's milk toddler formula, entrants to our 2020 FOOD FOR KIDS Trailblazers Challenge​ showcased innovative new products, brands, and routes to market for healthier options for babies and children. But we could only pick three winners …

Missed FoodNavigator-USA's FOOD FOR KIDS online series​? Sign up to watch the five sessions - including the Trailblazers session, which aired on November 11 - on demand HERE​.

FOOD FOR KIDS TRAILBLAZERS GALLERY: Entrepreneurs to watch... innovative new brands in kids' food & beverage

We had a record number of entries for this year's FOOD FOR KIDS Trailblazers Challenge, spanning everything from chickpea butter and lentil-based meat crumbles to bubbly probiotic water and veggie-infused ketchup.

Here are some of the innovations that caught our eye. View the GALLERY.


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