Nov 11, 2020
How growers helped launch Gerber’s organic ‘Freshful Start’ line
Early childhood nutrition brand Gerber recently announced its entry into retailers’ frozen food aisles with the launch of new frozen products from Freshful Start, a premium, organic, simple-ingredient line of foods made with veggies and whole grains.
The new Freshful Start bowls come in three varieties – tomato basil, mac and cheese and Southwest style – and are designed for toddlers 12 months and up. Freshful Start also offers two varieties of veggie bites, yellow carrot, kale, lentil and quinoa and broccoli, lentils and cheddar. The bowls are designed to be ready to warm and serve in minutes and are without preservatives, artificial flavors or colors. They are available in select Target stores.
Organic growers have played an important role in developing the Freshful Start brand, Vegetable Growers News reported in 2019. Gerber Fresh Start products, which were first launched in 2018 in coolers and freezers in retailers’ baby departments, required a few crops the growers hadn’t grown previously but Nestlé buyer Chris Falak tried to stick mostly with existing growers such as Crystal Valley Organics near Hart, Michigan.
“We try to reward our existing growers in any and all cases like this,” Falak said in 2019. “The response has been great. When they get an opportunity to expand their business and try something new, recognizing this is starting out small, they see the potential for growth, and they see the potential to be a part of something new.”
Starting a new product line with new crops is an education for both growers and their customer.
“The guys that we deal with are very good at what they do, but especially when you’re dealing with organic, there are idiosyncrasies, there are those little things that can make that crop for the year, and there will be a learning curve there for those guys to get good at it,” Falak said. “Certain climates will make the growing of certain vegetables tougher, and that’s a learning process for us. We may be best grown in a more arid region and not in the humidity that we have in Michigan, and we may need to work with one of our suppliers out of Colorado for certain crops.”
Today’s parents feel stressed about how everyday decisions could negatively impact their children, Gerber said in a news release. According to a 2020 Gerber sponsored survey of 2,000 parents in the U.S, 64% of parents worry about not providing enough healthy food for their children. Gerber Freshful Start frozen products aim to ease parents’ worries with new bowls that are convenient and nutritious.
“At Gerber, we’re always aiming to meet parents where their needs are by providing great products that foster healthy eating habits,” Catherine Cortes, brand manager at Gerber, said in a news release. “This is the first of what we hope will be many inventive frozen product offerings from Gerber. This is an exciting step in our innovation journey – entering a new area of the grocery store to bring parents nutrition at mealtime for toddlers with the same high quality and great taste parents expect from Gerber.”
Gerber Products Company was founded in 1928 in Fremont, Michigan, and joined the Nestlé family in 2007.