Square Baby founders Katie Thomson MS, RD, and Kendall Glynn MS, CGC, who launched the company in 2018, identified a gap in the market for fresh packaged baby food that amplified vegetables, grains, and proteins, instead of the fruit purées that currently dominate the category.
According to the company, one to three Square Baby meals a day provides 100% of the Daily Nutrition children need as defined by current USDA Dietary Guidelines. The company's line of products are bucketed into three age ranges: 4+ months, 6+ months, and 8+ months (although Thomson said her 9-year-old still chugs the company's Beet Berry SKU like a smoothie almost every day).
As a direct-to-consumer company, Square Baby customers can select the products based on specific preferences including dietary and nutrition needs, ingredients, and texture (smooth or chunky), which can be shipped in various quantities from 14 to 56 meals per order.
"We're seeing really great retention nearing 80%, and very happy customers," said Thomson, adding that the company has the most repeat orders with orders in the over 14-meals per box range.
'We're seeing really great retention nearing 80%, and very happy customers'
The feedback from consumers has been overwhelmingly positive, shared Thomson, who often hears from current customers that they can't go a day without feeding their child Square Baby meals.
"What we really learned over the last few years and what we're excited about as we replicate this model and go to scale is that our hopes to become a total nutrition solution for parents has totally rang true. In fact, we found them to be not only loyal but really depending on us," shared Thomson.
Square Baby is in the process of expanding from select regional availability to eight states on the West Coast to national direct-to-consumer distribution, and will move its operations into a new state-of-the-art facility in early 2022.
The path to helping children develop an acceptance for vegetables, a hurdle many parents face in the switch to solid foods, is to start as early as possible and introduce a variety of vegetables within the first 1,000 days of life.
But that can be difficult when the options for products with more than a sprinkling of vegetables are scarce, Thomson noted.
"I think parents are starting to become more aware and starting to demand more from baby food companies, otherwise they're going to make it at home themselves," she said.
While the majority of Square Baby's portfolio already meets PHA's standards of containing at least 40% vegetable content, the company is upping that commitment by phasing out its single-ingredient purées (Lil Mango, Lil Peach, Lil Pear) and in their place introducing simple, veggie-forward meals developed specifically for a baby's first bites.
Industry goals for better baby food
Already a strong proponent for vegetables over fruit in its product formulations, Square Baby has joined other like-minded companies in the baby food space in Partnership For Healthier America's (PHA) 'Veggies Early & Often' campaign, which aims to increase children's daily consumption of vegetables.
"We all collectively thought, we need to start with veggies because only 10% of kiddos are getting the recommended servings of veggies a day, and that's a problem. And part of that is access to proper nutrition and what is available on the market," said Thomson.
"And while we can't change the entire industry right now, what we can do as individual companies is to commit to standards that in turn creates demand from the customer. And wen there's a demand from the customers, there's demand from the retailer (and finally large, multinational companies are spurred to change)," she said.
Earlier this year, Danone-owned Happy Family Organics joined PHA's Veggies Early and Often initiative, a major step forward for PHA's coalition of participating baby food companies who are hoping more 'big food' companies will joining their veggie-forward cause.
"This isn't just creating a more delicious bar or another great snack, this is infant nutrition and this is shaping their dietary habits for life," said Thomson.