It's a Hit with Green Parents
Pesticide-free pureed peas or carrots may cost more but peace of mind for many new parents is immeasurable.
Friends of ours worried that the pesticides and additives used to grow and preserve food were bad for their 1-year-old daughter Lauren, not to mention the earth itself.
That’s why the pureed carrots, sweet potatoes and fruits Lauren ate, were purchased from makers of organic baby food.
Our friends figured that because Lauren was so small, the more pure, honest things she ate, the more it would be of benefit for her.
She also thought (rightly) that it benefits the environment.
"I want to raise my child with an idea of social responsibility.”
As you and I know, the environment has become a very hot topic these days, especially among parents who want to protect their children's health and the world they’ll be inheriting.
Parents are propelling a surge in organic-baby-food sales and that has prompted more companies to either join or expand their offerings in the sector.
Organic-baby-food still accounts for a tiny portion of the overall baby food market, but it's definitely growing.
Whole Foods Market Inc. said it has tripled the space allotted to organic-baby-food products in the last five years.
Last year, baby food institution Gerber Products Co. re-branded and broadened its organic line, while Abbott Laboratories introduced an organic version of its Similac baby formula.
The Rules of Organic
The U.S. Department of Agriculture inspects food producers to ensure they meet its standards for organic products.
They include banning the use of conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge for produce and antibiotics or growth hormones for animals.
Organic-baby-food sales soared 21.6 percent to $116 million in the 52 weeks, after jumping 16.4 percent a year earlier, according to The Nielsen Company.
Meanwhile, overall baby food sales rose 3.1 percent to $3.7 billion in the same period, after being essentially flat a year earlier.
The data was gleaned from U.S. grocery, drug and mass market retailers, excluding Wal-Mart.
Gerber Products replaced its Tender Harvest brand last year with a line called Gerber Organics and added products such as cereals, juice and food for toddlers.
The change was meant to make it more evident that the food was organic.
They needed to be more explicit.
While Tender Harvest, which was introduced in 1997, was selling well, its growth wasn’t matching the overall organic-baby-food category.
Gerber didn’t consider leaving the category because they believed moms wanted to purchase organic-baby-food from a brand they trusted.
Big companies aren’t the only ones addressing the demand for organic baby products.
Two years ago, Gigi Lee Chang started Plum Organics, a line of frozen baby foods, now a very hot area, according to Whole Foods officials.
Lee Chang got the idea to start the company when she heard friends talking about her son’s healthy appetite.
She decided that the organic foods she had been preparing for him, might be a good business opportunity.
The products are sold nationally and an extension of the line is planned for later in the year.
Freezing in the Freshness
Freezing the food instead of jarring it retained more freshness and nutrients.
By freezing, I’m trying to replicate the homemade aspect.
Producers said adhering to the USDA regulations makes organic foods cost more but parents are willing to pay the difference.
For example, a 25.7-ounce container of organic Similac formula retails for about $27.50, while the traditional brand would cost $23.50.
Gerber said its organic products cost about 30 percent more than its traditional baby foods.
Andrea, another friend and Mom to 20-month-old twin sons, thinks the additional cost isn’t a huge burden and believes organic is worth the expense.
She favored the Earth’s Best brand because it offers lots of variety.
White said Abbott entered the organic formula market because there was an interest from moms.
Moms seem to feel better using it.
We're told it's "a lifestyle choice.”
Soooooo, Is it Worth it?
Doctors say parents shouldn’t feel guilty if they can’t afford the extra expense.
The USDA doesn’t claim that organic food is safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced food and the American Academy of Pediatrics has no official stance on subject.
Candace uses organic food in meals she prepares for her daughter because it's less expensive than buying pre-made products.
She notes her baby girl hasn’t had many of the stomach problems and ear infections common in other infants.
“I believe she’ll be healthier as an adult, as well."
Based on everything we know, it's definitely worth the effort.Tweet
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