Tiny Human Food founder on the future of baby food: 'I think there’s going to be a new standard set'
The idea to launch Tiny Human Food (called OrgaNums at the time) - one of a flurry of fresh baby food companies to emerge in recent years - began roughly seven years ago when Rossi was shopping for baby food.
Rossi knew she wanted to create products that parents could feel good about giving their children, and for her that meant partnering with The Clean Label Project to ensure close scrutiny of heavy metals and other contaminants.
Rossi -- who has received The Clean Label Project's Purity Award (the organization's highest standard) for its full product line and published the results on the company's website for parents to easily access -- says the conversation around the presence of heavy metals in baby food feels like walking a tightrope.
"It’s a dirty job to know about heavy metal contamination. You have almost the burden of having to give parents information they really don’t want to hear," said Rossi.
But ultimately, it's a message Rossi is glad she has stuck to over the years working with The Clean Label Project, as the conversation around heavy metals and other toxins found in baby food has heated up in the wake of a Congressional report that's sparked dozens of lawsuits targeting major baby food brands.
"Nothing I could have done myself could have touched the impact of this report," she said.
"I think for a while people didn’t even understand what clean label meant and the significance of the Purity Award, now they get it effortlessly."
Made using HPP (high pressure processing), Tiny Human Food products teach babies to learn to love the taste of fruits and vegetables by never masking their presence with other added ingredients, said Rossi, who said the company will be launching a new product to its line this summer.
In response to the report, the FDA has just released its 'Closer to Zero' action plan for reducing levels of heavy metals in baby foods while lawmakers have introduced The Baby Food Safety Act - proposing strict action levels for four toxic metals in baby foods - to Congress.
As the FDA works to establish clear safety thresholds for all baby food companies to follow, Rossi believes that momentum is building for baby food brands who have already committed to sharing levels of heavy metals and other toxins found in their products publicly
"Now that the curtain has been pulled. I think there’s going to be a new standard set," she said.
'In five weeks, we did more sales than we did in 2020'
In terms of a direct impact to the company, Rossi said sales for Tiny Human Food products have surged in the weeks following the publishing of the report.
"In five weeks, we did more sales than we did in 2020," said Rossi, who switched from selling her products in retail stores to direct-to-consumer where she believes the brand is gaining a more loyal following of consumers, especially in the past few months.
While not closing the door on brick & mortar retail entirely, Rossi said she would consider re-entering retail further down the line.
"I’ll be happy to revisit retail when they prioritize baby food the way they do pet food. That level of commitment is just not there for the stores," said Rossi.
Pursuing growth funding
Historically a frustration point, Rossi is now finding the process of seeking funding to grow her brand to be less of a battle.
"Raising funding to pursue retail just felt like asking for money, raising money for e-commerce feels like offering an opportunity, and it's the biggest shift in the world," said Rossi, who is in the middle of a funding round now and also actively seeking impact investors who believe in Tiny Human Food's mission.
"I think investors are seeing this is a big damn deal."