Industry: Food & Beverage
Products: Baby and toddler meals
With Colorado's first baby food delivery service, co-founders Barclay and Randi Miller aim to make it easy for local families to give their kids healthy meals.
The Millers never meant to get into food manufacturing. "This came out of necessity," says Barclay, who is Baby Fresh Organics' CEO.
When he and his wife, Randi, started feeding their twins solid foods, they were troubled by the products available in stores. "Even the leading organic brands had so many preservatives and additives," Barclay recalls.
While Randi wanted to feed her children fresh, wholesome meals, she quickly learned that making baby food from scratch isn't easy when you have two babies to look after.
"There are companies that will make fresh food for your dog, but we didn't have anyone doing it for babies," Barclay says. So he pitched the idea to Dave Fantz, CEO of SupperBell, a Denver-based manufacturer delivering chef-inspired meals direct to consumers daily.
SupperBell meals are scratch-cooked at a Denver-area commissary, and delivered same-day to consumers. "Given that 80 percent of their clientele are working and busy moms, they loved the idea of adding a baby food line," Barclay says.
SupperBell serves as a third-party packager for Baby Fresh Organics, manufacturing the company's recipes, and completing fulfillment, too, with its six refrigerated delivery trucks.
"We took the summer to develop our recipes and marketing materials, and just went live in mid-September," continues Barclay. He and Randi crafted recipes that were tested with certified nutritionist therapist Andrea White, who ended up joining Baby Fresh Organics as chief marketing officer.
Baby Fresh Organics makes four different "stages" of jarred food: single-ingredient and blended purees, along with finger foods and constructed meals for kids of all ages. The menu ranges from beet puree to wild sockeye salmon with turmeric zucchini zoodles, and changes seasonally to appease Denver's youngest foodies.
Locally sourced produce is sautéed in healthy fats such as coconut oil and ghee, and supplemented with quality sources of protein in later stage meals. "We wanted to create protein- and iron-rich food to promote healthy brain development," Barclay says.
"We started out with four SKUs for each stage," he continues. Menu items -- sold on SupperBell's website -- will rotate weekly.
Barclay's biggest trade secret is a blast chiller, an expensive commercial appliance that immediately cools cooked food, preserving freshness via chilling. "When you receive our product, it's as fresh as it was when it was first produced in the morning," he explains.
Delivered meals are fully prepared. "Just heat, and it's ready to serve," Barclay adds.
Ranging from $4.95 to $7.45, Baby Fresh Organic meals are a little more expensive that a typical pouch of baby food. But market research showed that 60 percent of Millennials surveyed would rather pay more for cleaner, healthier food.
That same population also values convenience. In fact, 87 percent of young consumers are willing to order all of their groceries online, Barclay reports. Another detail that speaks to this generation is packaging, which is a combination of recyclable glass jars and compostable trays.
"We didn't want customers to be tied to a subscription," Barclay continues. Hence, Baby Fresh Organics uses an order-on-demand scheme. "Maybe down the road, we'd consider being on store shelves, but right now we're happy using SupperBell's infrastructure," says Barclay.
In the meantime, though, this startup is looking to expand, possibly by setting up its own kitchen in central Denver. And next quarter, Baby Fresh Organics plans to release a new product line: healthy snacks and lunch meals for preschools.
Challenges: The Millers are focusing on educating consumers. "Part of that education is teaching people that they can have this kind of high-quality food delivered directly to them," Barclay points out.
Opportunities: With any business, Barclay says, "There's such enthusiasm in the beginning." He'd love to scale up nationally someday, but also sees plenty of opportunity to build a strong brand right here in Colorado.
Needs: As the company grows, Baby Fresh Organics is looking for its own commercial kitchen space. "We'd love to get USDA-certified, and control our own destiny as we scale," Barclay says.