Available nationwide in the refrigerator aisle at Target and Wegmans, Once Upon A Farm’s Strawberry, Banana Chocolate and Apple Cinnamon Refrigerated Oat Bars are a “logical extension” of the brand’s fresh and “freshly frozen” children’s food that is organic and free from added sugar, preservatives and artificial ingredients, co-founder and CEO John Foraker told FoodNavigator-USA.
“What is cool about our refrigerated bars is the refrigerated temperature state allows us to do things in the formulation that deliver all that great nutrition … and amazing taste and texture,” but without some of the ingredients that are necessary for ambient temperature shelf stability and which many consumers want to avoid, he explained.
“At Once Upon a Farm, the nutrition that we put into our food and what we leave out of our food is just different than what’s offered out there,” added co-founder and chief brand officer Jennifer Garner.
She explained to FoodNavigator-USA that it took Once Upon a Farm about two years to create the bars because they wanted to ensure they “offered the same level of cleanliness, nutrition, whole food … and less processing than a lot of what you see. And we are now so excited to share this gorgeous bar, which has no added sugar … includes 40% fruits and veggies and has a drizzle on top that we all dream at night about because there is no palm oil, no chemicals, nothing like that. It is just dates and fruit and a little coconut.”
The bars’ clean profile and lack of added sugar set it apart from the “vast majority” of bars on the market and allows the company to “move nutrition forward in a way that is meaningful or parents,” added Foraker.
The bars also target a slightly older child than the company’s existing line-up – allowing it to expand its customer base.
‘Disrupting a space like this is not really new to us’
The bars’ placement in the refrigerator set may help physically set them apart from the competition, but it also acts as a double-edge sword because it might not be a section of the store where caregivers look for on-the-go children’s snacks.
Foraker, however, isn’t worried – arguing that “disrupting a space like this is not really new to us” given Once Upon a Farm successfully disrupted the baby food aisle with the introduction of refrigerated HPP offerings eight years ago.
“The idea of coming into a space that was something new and then educating consumers about it is something we’ve had multiple years of experience doing,” he said.
“We’ve been very patient and methodical in building our core brand. So, right now, our pouch business, which is really a kid snacking and baby business, is in about 14,000 doors in the us with an average assortment of about 10. So, we have a big brand block out there across a lot of really important retailers. We have millions of loyal households and fans and lots of brand awareness. So, we think that is a great starting place,” he added.
The brand’s proposition is further reinforce by its existing cold supply chain to support the delivery of a “very high-quality experience for our consumers and we think we will grow the category as result,” Foraker said.
For support, he pointed to the company’s strong velocities in other categories with its refrigerated offerings.
“Our assortment generally turns two to three times faster than everything else in the baby aisle,” as consumers increasingly gravitate to a better, healthier choice, Foraker said.
Coolers coming to the baby food aisle
To further support the brand’s positioning and make shopping its offerings even easier for consumers, Foraker said the company is testing adding coolers to the baby aisle.
“We have big national retailers that are rolling out coolers in the baby aisle to do what fresh pet did in the pet aisle,” but in the baby aisle, he said. “We are in the process of really accelerating that and it’s really starting to happen in a pretty big way. You are already seeing it now in the market, but next year it will be much more significant.”
For stores that do not have coolers in the baby food or children’s snack aisle, the company’s products can be found most often in the dairy aisle.