The funding, announced today and led by Springdale Ventures and supported by more than a dozen others, will help Tiny Organics expand the reach of its unique approach to baby led weaning that introduces children to their first 100 flavors through frozen meals that can be customized to meet babies’ nutritional needs.
The money also will advance Tiny Organics’ work as a founding member of Partnership for a Healthier America’s ‘Shaping Early Palates’ initiative, which is focused on ensuring children consume the recommended daily amount of vegetables through the recently launched ‘Veggies Early & Often’ campaign.
Breaking children’s sugar addiction
While lower-sugar, vegetable-forward baby food options are becoming more prevalent on store shelves or available direct-to-consumer, the category is still overwhelmingly dominated by fruit-heavy options that Tiny Organics’ co-founder Betsy Fore says perpetuate – rather than break – the sugar addiction with which babies are born.
“We always say that babies are born to a sugar addiction. A mother’s breast milk is already sweet, and then when you compound that with the first foods being typically a fruit puree here in the United States, the a child develops very early on a very sweet palate that can take them through all childhood,” and hinder their ability to like savory and bitter foods and vegetables, she explained.
“What’s so cool about what we’re building is that it’s actually tapping into when the palate is being shaped. So the age of four to seven months is a period in a baby’s life called the flavor window where more than any point in their entire life they are keen to try new flavors. And so, for us, if that new flavor can be a vegetable and then we can continue to introduce those vegetables, the child actually then prefers vegetables and so there is no reason for these sugary purees,” Fore added.
Most of Tiny Organics’ meals, which are made fresh and then frozen before being mailed to consumers, lead with vegetables, such as the Baby Burrito Bowl, which blends pinto beans, corn, tomato and scallions, and The Wizard of Orzo, which combines zucchini, peas and gluten-free orzo. But some do including fruit, like the Bananas Foster, which features bananas, sweet potatoes and butternut squash.
Building out a team to better serve consumers, raise awareness
To help ensure that babies obtain the nutrition they need at each stage of development, as well as an appreciation for diverse flavors and textures, Tiny Organics relies heavily on technology to personalize menu selections – which part of the Series A funding will help the company further develop.
“We are looking to build … our incredible technology team to really scale that as a key differentiator for Tiny,” Fore said, explaining, “in building a programmatic approach, the way mom really interacts with us is on our site where we can decipher for her, based on her child’s inputs such as allergies or even they were born by c-section or breastfed, and they have a different gut health,” which meals to introduce when for optimal nutrition and palate development.
Part of the funds also will go towards raising brand awareness, and building on the company’s connection with caregivers, which has been fundamental to Tiny Organics since its inception, added co-founder Sofia Laurell.
“Why we’re doing what we’re doing is really for our parents, and that’s kind of where it all started,” with a New York parent group that shared how and what they fed their children and what they wanted from a prepared baby food, she said.
She explained that working with these parents helped Tiny Organics develop recipes that can serve as a meal for babies, a side or a snack for older children, or even a quick bite for caregivers.
Just as focused on ensuring its products are healthy for children, Tiny Organics will use part of the funding to ensure its products are healthier for the planet by selecting vegan ingredients and reducing its reliance on plastic.
The company’s new containers are cardboard based with aluminum lids that can be peeled off for serving and then later recycled along with the base, Fore said. She also noted that the company uses cornstarch based packaging insulation that dissolves under water.
Teamwork makes the dreamwork
Finally, Tiny Organics recognizes that it cannot fulfill its ambitious mission of creating more adventurous and healthy eaters on its own, which is why it is working closely with Partnership for a Healthier America to create a new standard for the baby food category that emphasizes vegetables and savory flavors.
“We’ve actually been with PHA for over two years from the very founding of the Veggies Early and Often campaign,” which is focused on teaching young children to favor vegetables from their first bites, Fore said.
As part of this partnership, Tiny Organics helped create a new standard for vegetable-forward products and an icon that companies can use to communicate to consumers that their products are high in vegetables and low in sugar, Fore said.
She explained that she believes once parents see the icon and understand what it represents they will gravitate towards the products featuring it as a way to reduce the sugar in their children’s diets and increase their vegetable intake.
Overall, she added, “we’re absolutely thrilled with the coalition and everything we have been able to accomplish today,” and the recent fundraise will help accelerate the adoption of these values, and the availability of products that will reshape children’s diet for a healthier future.