Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA, Sorrosa explained that the fresh baby food segment is an expensive business to be in as a small company, and her products were just in a few hundred stores and struggling to find refrigerated shelf space for its line of products.
"It was very costly as a startup with limited resources, and it just wasn’t sustainable for us," Sorrosa told FoodNavigator-USA, spurring the company to look at where else they could offer better-for-you options for parents of young kids.
"When we looked beyond baby food and looked at what children ate as they got older, we realized that the options for children get worse as they get older," Sorrosa said, referring to the huge retail presence that "Frito-Lay-type" products have in the kids and family snacking set.
Improving the kids snacking category
In 2019, Fresh Bellies expanded its offerings and launched a line of shelf-stable snacks for toddlers, which helped catapult the brand into mass retail before the pandemic and dramatically expanded its distribution footprint, noted Sorrosa.
"That is the product that put us on the map in a big way, we went from a couple of hundred stores with our baby food to 2,000 stores by the end of 2019 with toddler snacks, and 4,000 stores by the end of last year," said Sorrosa.
Continuing its focus on snacks, Fresh Bellies recently launched its Groovies line of sorghum-based puffs with added vegetable powder (beets, carrots, broccoli, and mushrooms) targeting pre-school aged children.
"We wanted to offer something for kids to transition into as kids go from toddler snacks to regular adult snacks or Goldfish crackers and Annie’s Bunnies," she said, adding that because Groovies puffs are made with sorghum, the product is more filling and satiating than a typical corn-based puff.
"Parents still struggle today on how do I get more vegetables into my child’s diet... and when they can find something that their child will happily eat that’s not a struggle, it’s a winner. And that’s exactly the need that we’re trying to meet," added Sorrosa.
'We've seen tremendous growth'
With an expanding line of snack products, Sorrosa shared that the company is consistently achieving triple-digit sales growth year-over-year.
"Last year, which was a pandemic year, our toddler snacks grew 300%. This year we’ve grown 2X from 2020. We’re just continuing to see growth year over year, and demand for our products and our velocities continue to improve," she said.
"Overall, we’ve seen tremendous growth."
Sorrosa shared that the company is launching a 3.5-ounce version of its Groovies line, designed to be a family snack.
"It’s similar in flavor to our Groovies snack but slightly more salted and seasoned for an adult palate," said Sorrosa, who added that the product was exclusively available online but will soon begin moving into retail.
"Our goal for next year is to really expand that family snacking set with healthier, never before seen ingredients in that line."
FOOD FOR KIDS
Interested in the kids snacking category? Join us for Part II of the FOOD FOR KIDS Interactive Broadcast Series taking place on Wednesday, Nov. 17. This free, virtual event will bring together thought leaders from the across the industry. REGISTER HERE.