Healthy Baby Boom

All-natural, organic and specialty baby foods are experiencing a boom, as health-conscious parents look for more nutritious and tasty options for their tots. According to “State of the Specialty Food Industry 2009,” a recent report from the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT) and Mintel International, baby food is one of the three fastest-growing categories in specialty food right now (Yogurt and Kefir, and Refrigerated Juices and Functional Beverages are the other two). All three categories grew more than 50 percent in sales between 2006 and 2008, with baby food going from $34 million in sales in 2006 to $58 million in 2008 — a remarkable 70 percent increase.

According to Mintel’s Global New Product Database, the number of specialty baby food introductions nearly tripled from 2006 to 2007. And these aren’t your mother’s peas and carrots. Consider some of the newest healthy baby foods to hit the market, like Sprout Baby Food from Sprout Foods, an innovative children’s organic food company. Developed by celebrity chef, father and Sprout Foods co-founder Tyler Florence, Sprout Baby Food offers uniquely prepared baby food in a lightweight, eco-friendly package.

Sprout Baby Food comes in gourmet-sounding flavor combinations like Roasted Banana & Mango; Baked Sweet Potatoes & White Beans; and Summer Squash, Yukon Gold Potatoes & Parmesan. The food is roasted rather than steamed, and not watered down, but cooked to allow the naturally rich flavors of fruits, grains and vegetables to shine through. The product is currently test-launching at Central Market and HEB stores.

Then there’s Green Monkey, a “super premium” organic baby food brand designed for babies aged six months onwards. Based on traditional, wholesome, homemade recipes, the fruit and vegetable ingredients are sourced entirely from certified organic New Zealand farms. Known for frozen organic baby food, Green Monkey has recently launched The Green Monkey Pouch System that offers fresh baby food that has been gently pressure-cooked and sealed in pouches, eliminating the need for additives, preservatives, freezing or refrigeration.
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