It was really only a matter of time before the cold-pressed, cold-packed, hand-selected direct-to-your-door meal movement made its way to baby food. After all, parents of babies are universally-known to be exhausted balls of nervous energy. We've got a trigger finger for any "Buy Now" button that promises to make parenting even one iota easier.
Former CEO of Annie's Homegrown, John Foraker, teamed up with super-mom Jennifer Garner to lead Once Upon a Farm, an ultra premium baby food company. The elevator pitch is impressive: They combined the star power of Jessica Alba's Honest with the commitment to parents offered by Plum Organics and the convenience of Blue Apron. Indeed, Once Upon a Farm makes a compelling brand promise that is sure to captivate nervous parents:
The baby food purveyor suggests that we can find these pouches in the refrigerated section, but their website pushes the direct-mail option, with the overnighted freezer packs that entails. Customers can buy a trial 8-pack for $2.49 a pouch, after which one is automatically upgraded to a subscription of 24 pouches at a time for $59.76. (Still $2.49 a pouch for those too tired to do the math.) For readers who have not gazed confusingly at Target's entire aisle of baby food pouches, this is approximately twice the cost of the nearest premium brand – Plum Organics. Plum makes a similar healthful brand promise, but is – gasp! – shelf stable. Actually, to my mind, that's a feature not a bug, since I can leave them floating at the bottom of the diaper bag for any toddler emergencies I face. But cold-pressing preserves nutrients and flavor, or so they tell me. Never mind that young children are not known for their sophisticated palates. My three-year-old's ideal dinner is a pile of still-frozen peas and a slice of Kraft cheese.
Plum's pouches are still too rich for my blood at $1.25, since my baby will eat approximately 1/10 of a pouch before dive-bombing for my garlic bread. But at least Plum is a B-corp, which means they commit to better business practices in addition to better product offerings.
Now, yes, the cost of Once Upon a Farm pouches is relatively obscene. But I know there's a demographic out there who can afford it. That's not the point. Companies that make a sustainability brand promise must go beyond the sustainability of the product they produce and look at the larger community. Once Upon a Farm does make some vaguely-worded promises of a larger social mission on their website:
Once Upon a Farm aspires to be a leading organic family food company that will fight for and support efforts to drive positive social change and food justice for the benefit of parents, kids and families. It's with this mission that Once Upon a Farm strives to nurture our children, each other, and the earth to pass along a healthier and happier world to the next generation.
Here are some more specific numbers Once Upon a Farm might consider:
Given that Once Upon a Farm is just getting off the ground, I urge Foraker and Garner and the rest of the gang to take the tremendous opportunity they have in a nutritional food start-up to put that general interest in social justice into action sooner rather than later.
Sponsor a school garden program! Invest in a one-for-one model! Lead the charge on nutrition research and lobbying! I'm sure you have something in the works, but we all know that the best sustainability programs are built in from the ground up. You've done your nutrition research, now make a commitment to America's children who really need the help.
Update: Check out the response from Once Upon a Farm CEO in the comments below!
Image credit: Once Upon a Farm
Jen Boynton is the former Editor-in-Chief of TriplePundit. She has an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School and has helped organizations including SAP, PwC and Fair Trade USA with their sustainability communications messaging. She is based in San Diego, California. When she's not at work, she volunteers as a CASA (court appointed special advocate) for children in the foster care system. She enjoys losing fights with toddlers and eating toast scraps. She lives with her family in sunny San Diego.