‘We’ve seen a lot of retailers pull back tremendously [from fresh baby food]’

According to Regina Lee Fechter, VP of innovation and e-commerce at Happy Family Organics, which makes shelf-stable products for expecting moms and infants to babies, toddlers, and kids, the overall market for fresh baby food has not performed quite as well as some retailers and players in the space may have expected.

“We’ve seen a lot of retailers pull back tremendously… they weren’t getting those incremental sales from the fridges, because in reality they had to discontinue so much space​ [to make room for fresh baby food brands] and then people didn’t necessarily want to pay the premium price points,”​ Fechter told FoodNavigator-USA, referring to a few retailers who have tested and decided not to expand in-aisle fridge pilots designated for baby food. 

 Fresh Bellies decided to discontinue fresh baby food completely and focus solely on kids snacks, citing cost and logistics barriers. Tiny Human Foods, which still makes a suite of fresh baby food products, has switched from retail to a 100% direct-to-consumer model, with founder Ashley Rossi noting, “I’ll be happy to revisit retail when they prioritize baby food the way they do pet food. That level of commitment is just not there for the stores.”

In terms of areas where retailers are prioritizing more space, organic baby food has become the biggest driver of growth for many stores. 

“The tremendous growth of organic has been huge,” ​said Fechter. “When you think of the overall MULO category, in 2016 it was 26% organic, and now in 2021 it’s 37.6. We’ve basically seen a 10-point growth in organic, and we know that baby food is the leading edge of organic food as a category,” ​she said.