by Ashley Rossi, OrgaNums, guest contributor
Ashley Rossi is the founder of OrgaNums, a Chicago-area company that uses a cold-pressed (High Pressure Pasteurized) process to create healthy, nutritious baby food from organic ingredients. Ashley’s business benefited from its participation in the Financing Fair at FamilyFarmed‘s 2015 Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference. In this contributed piece, she describes the challenges she has faced getting retail store placement for her brand in this new market segment.
The opinions stated in the article are those of the author. If you are interested in sharing your thoughts on your experiences as a participant in the Good Food movement, please email Managing Editor Bob Benenson at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Op-Ed.”
I would like to preface this article by saying that we LOVE dogs at OrgaNums and any brand created to improve their health, quality of life, and make their taste buds happy is a friend of ours! This article is only intended to help open the eyes of our nation’s retailers.
The Road to the Tiny Human Food Revolution
As the owner of a startup company, I knew full well that starting a new segment to a long-existing category would have its challenges. But I have always been up to the task. As far as I’ve been concerned, while retailers don’t easily offer their shelf space (especially for perishables), we provide a product that offers a direct impact to the health of tiny humans and that alone should help us get our foot in the door, obviously, right?
Cold-pressed (or High Pressure Pasteurized) baby food is a growing category started by moms who were absolutely fed up with the options presently found on grocery store shelves… sitting in jars for the better part of a year (sometimes more)… at room temperature… with flavors and textures that are leaving more and more parents looking like this:
The technology used to cold-press foods and juices has been around for more than 100 years and is finally being used to make the huge impact on consumers’ health for which it was designed. Most shelf-stable products are processed with Ultra High Temperatures that strip products of their natural vitamins, nutrients, flavors and textures. Cold-pressed processing simply uses pressure rather than heat.
This leaves true flavors with higher vitamin and nutrient content. This is what the baby food industry has been ignoring since its inception and what we’re THRILLED to offer parents from now on — because who doesn’t want what’s best for their tiny humans??
“…Excuse Me, but There’s Fresh Dog Food Ten Aisles Away.”
You can imagine my confusion when we started approaching retailers with this revolutionary, highly sought-after, fresh and refreshingly healthy baby food, and being told that it poses too many ‘placement’ challenges. Bear in mind that some of these retailers carry cold-pressed pet food, yet asking them to carry cold-pressed baby food wasn’t an option.
It has left me, quite frankly, disappointed. We are supposed to be in the midst of a drastic change in the way that we see, use and buy our foods. Organic is king, fresh is best, we’re an overwhelmingly busy society, so convenience is a tremendous help… and yet, here we are…
OrgaNums (you know, the brand that offers parents a line of small-batch, cold-pressed, scrumptious organic food for their tiny humans that they don’t have to make themselves in effort to avoid the shelf-stable filler foods??), and few other similar producers can’t get into grocery in a real way.
A couple of independent stores here and there, or a percentage of larger retailer locations? Sure. But let’s not forget that you can buy your puppy the best food on the market at virtually any one of a large chain’s locations. There’s a message that I don’t think retailers know that they’re sending, and it’s strong:
“We do things the way that we’ve always done things, and while a healthy, fresh pet food was worth bending for, baby food just isn’t.”
We Have Friendship Necklaces With Your Names on Them, Retailers
In no way, shape or form do we want to be anything but BFFs with retailers! WE LOVE YOU, RETAILERS! However, I personally felt maybe we could offer a little perspective here because, ultimately, babies deserve this change. They deserve to have their diets valued, improved, and fought for.
Your Optimistically Stubborn Friend,
CEO & Founder of OrgaNums