NEW YORK, N.Y. — While healthful eating and its benefits are already in the daily narrative of American life, certain industries are largely absent from the conversation. Baby food is one of them. Sobering studies point to the pressing need for change in a space that has lagged innovation. The rates of childhood obesity continue to skyrocket, growing ten times in the last forty years, and picky eating plagues parents and pediatricians with long term health implications in adolescence and adulthood. From an industry perspective, little has been done to get to the root of the problem: baby food that is fruit-laden to make it palatable to children versus food that trains kids to appreciate savory and varied flavors. Fresh Bellies tries to curb the rise in childhood obesity and unhealthy eating habits by challenging the industry’s status-quo.
Founded in 2015, the company addresses a dated baby food industry that serves bland flavors with a disproportionate amount of fruit to vegetable ratio. In response to the alarming childhood obesity statistics, the new line of organic baby food focuses on a baby’s palate development. By never masking vegetables with sweet fruit and seasoning with herbs/spices like garlic and thyme, Fresh Bellies is training baby palates to take on bold and savory flavors from the very first bite. Each Chef-formulated recipe teaches babies how to eat varied flavors so they are less likely to become picky eaters later in life.
According to one recent study, only one in 10 Americans eats the recommended daily amount of fruits and veggies, and new research has revealed that 57 percent of children and teens will be obese by the age of 35. The key is to tackle the issue from the earliest age possible.
“The evidence is clear and mounting as to the connection between a baby’s first experience with solid foods and their food choices as they grow up,” said Dr. Nimali Fernando, MD, MPH, pediatrician and founder of Yum Pediatrics and DoctorYum.org. “Parents have much more control than they think in shaping a child’s eating habits, and by token their future. It’s not about sophisticated ingredients but about dialing down the fruit sugars, dialing up savory flavors and ensuring early exposure to variety.”
In addition to it’s focus on flavor without turning to fruit sugars, Fresh Bellies’ signature packaging is another product differentiator, speaking to the company’s overall mission of encouraging healthy eating and developing fine motor skills. The company’s founder Saskia Sorrosa, an award-winning marketer and mother of two, made a conscious decision to deviate from the pouch and become the first to market with a cup and custom lid that features a nestled spoon for on–the-go convenience. Each PVC and BPA-free container is clear, making it easy for parents to see what they are buying and for babies to see what they are eating.
“We now know enough about palate development to understand that it happens earlier than we thought – studies have shown that infants experience flavor through amniotic fluid as well as breast milk,” said Amy Bentley, a professor in New York University’s Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, and bestselling author of Inventing Baby Food. “Saskia is one of the first people to reimagine the industry in this way, providing families with a product that redefines baby food and can impact children’s eating from the get go.”
In the two short years since its launch, Fresh Bellies has won a Best of Westchester Award for Best Mommy Approved Baby Food and, most recently, the Expo East 2017 NEXTY Award for Best New Natural Kid’s Product, a coveted industry recognition that receives over 400 submissions each year from the most innovative CPG food companies. Since its inception, the company has grown distribution from farmer’s markets in Westchester County to Northeast retailers and nationwide distribution via Jet.com. Most recently, the company launched its online storefront offering national shipping and has partnered with key retailers like Wegman’s, Fairway, ShopRite, Citarella, among others, to bring its innovative products to families everywhere.
“I created Fresh Bellies because I wanted my daughters to develop a taste for savory foods and I couldn’t find anything in the baby food aisle free of fruit sugars,” said Sorrosa. “Our children are prone to obesity because we haven’t changed our approach to food. Understanding that eating is a learned behavior means that if we continue to mask vegetables with fruit, we are teaching kids to have a preference for the sweet foods we are using to trick them and not for the foods that are good for them. It is our mission to raise a generation of healthful, adventurous eaters by helping kids become adults who choose vegetables consciously, of their own accord.”
About Fresh Bellies
Fresh Bellies is creating a new generation of healthful, adventurous eaters starting with a baby’s very first bite. The company’s products are changing the way kids eat from the onset by never masking vegetables with sweet fruit and tastefully seasoning with herbs and spices. Each Chef-formulated recipe helps babies’ palates grow by exposing them to the bold and savory flavors they will eat as they get older. Fresh Bellies purees are made with whole organic ingredients, preservative-free and feature convenient packaging with a spoon in the lid, ideal for encouraging fine motor skills, at home or on-the-go. Please visit freshbellies.com for product information, a list of locations, and the company’s blog and opinion pieces on topics ranging from food and parenting to child and entrepreneurship development.