Meet the Women Disrupting the Baby Food Industry

Little Spoon set to disrupt the baby food category

Meet the Women Disrupting the Baby Food Industry

With the mantra, “Your baby food should never be older than your baby,” San Francisco-based Little Spoon Organic, LLC is shaking up the baby food category, making fresh refrigerated organic baby food products available to a mass audience.

Three entrepreneurs, Angela Vranich, Ben Lewis, and Michelle Muller, founded the company in 2014 after serendipitously crossing paths in their efforts to find an alternative to highly processed, shelf-stable baby foods.

In 2013, Vranich and Lewis began working on developing a baby food product pasteurized using High Pressure Processing (HPP) after they saw how the technology had drastically changed the juice market.

At the same time, Muller was trying to expand her New York City-based fresh, organic baby-food delivery service, but needed a way to extend the three-day shelf life of her products. Their shared interests launched Little Spoon.

In March 2015, the company introduced its Little Spoon Babyblends products, comprising three lines of organically grown, non-GMO fruit and vegetable blends for different stages of baby’s growth. The products are pasteurized through HPP and are packaged in convenient cups with attached spoons that are decorated with clean, contemporary graphics designed to appeal to moms.

HPP preserves nutrients, extends shelf life

For Little Spoon, freshness is the key to its product; HPP is the means of delivering that freshness in a retail environment.

Says Vranich, “The [baby food] pouches and jars currently on the market use a traditional pasteurization method whereby extremely high heat and long hold times are used to kill off harmful bacteria.

This allows manufacturers to make a shelf-stable product that can, in some cases, sit for as long as three years on a grocery store shelf.

Using such high heat kills off harmful bacteria, but in the process, it also kills most of the vitamins and nutrients naturally found in the food that make it worth eating in the first place.”

HPP uses a high level of isostatic pressure transmitted by water to cold-pasteurize products after they are packaged. “Under these conditions, bacteria react in the same way they do under heat, except the taste, color, texture, vitamins, and nutrients of the food are unadulterated, resulting in the safest and most nutritionally dense food possible,” explains Vranich.

“HPP is a complete game-changer for the baby food category,” she adds. “It inhibits the growth of vegetative flora in the food and naturally extends its shelf life.” To provide HPP services, Little Spoon uses a local toll processor. The method gives its Babyblends products a shelf life of 45 to 60 days, depending on the SKU.

Cups allow for ‘sacred experience’

While Little Spoon is not the only company that now offers HPP baby food, Vranich says there are several important points of differentiation between Babyblends and its competition.

For example, she says, while some of the new entrants use sugary juices to their purees, Little Spoon does not add any unnecessary ingredients to its blends.

“What the consumer sees on the front of the package is exactly what is in the product,” she explains. “We do not use additives, fillers, juices, or preservatives.”

The other advantage, Vranich says, is that Little Spoon uses a cup rather than a pouch to package its products. “We believe spoon feeding babies their first bites is a sacred experience, and that meals should be chewed, not sucked,” she says.

Little Spoon also believes spoon-feeding helps develop vital oral and motor skills and instills healthy eating habits.

To help design a container that would enable spoon-feeding while also provide the convenience of a pouch, Little Spoon worked with design consultancy Little Big Brands.

The resulting package is 4-oz, rectangular, clear PET cup with a clear polypropylene lid that incorporates a cyan-colored snap-in spoon.

Says LBB Partner Pamela Long, “By incorporating a spoon into the lid, the cup rivals the functionality of a pouch while remaining a fresher, more nutritious option.”

The packaging components are supplied by proprietary U.S.-based companies, are BPA-free, and are 100% recyclable. The cup is decorated with a four-color, digitally printed shrink-sleeve label from Fort Dearborn.

Label graphics were also designed by LBB, which Long says was given free rein to create the branding they felt was right for the brand.

“We wanted very much for this to look and feel real, fresh, pure food—just for a littler person,” she says.

Clean, but playful aesthetic

Graphics for Babyblends’ 10 SKUs incorporate an identity built around the little spoon itself and feel “warm and approachable,” says Long.

Starting with a clean white background, the design features colorful custom “food geometry” patterns made up of images of fruits, vegetables, seeds, or nuts, depending on the variety.

For example, Stage 2 variety Carrot Apple Ginger uses a crosshatch design made from carrots, with apples pictured within each diamond. The typeface for each variety uses colors that correspond to the artwork.

“Un a lot of brands for children, we made the conscious effort to create something for mom or dad’s aesthetic, with just a hint of playfulness,” explains Long. “We want parents to know this is real, fresh food they are buying. Your child isn’t old enough at this point to assert a preference, so the design was created with what parents want to feed their child in mind.”

Introduced first at the Natural Product Expo West in 2015, Little Spoon Babyblends will soon be rolled out in Whole Foods Market in the Southern Pacific and Rocky Mountain regions, with the product marketed in its own, dedicated cooler in the baby food aisle in some stores. The company is also planning to launch a direct-to-consumer subscription service via its website, The products are priced at $3.99, $4.99, and $5.99 for Steps 1, 2, and 3 respectively.

“The response from retailers has been very supportive and positive,” says Vranich. “They are excited to see a healthy and more nutritious option they can offer consumers. We are seeing some retailers really get behind it to promote it and allow us to create a special section for fresh baby food.

“We’ve also gotten tremendously positive feedback from consumers. Parents love the flavor combinations and the little spoon we’ve included in the packaging for convenience. We get contacted all the time from consumers requesting stores in their area.”


Global Baby Food Market

Meet the Women Disrupting the Baby Food Industry

Fastest Growing Market:

Asia Pacific

Largest Market:

North America

Need a report that reflects how COVID-19 has impacted this market and its growth?

Global baby food market is expected to register a CAGR of 6.67%, during the period of 2020 to 2025.

  • The global baby food market has experienced significant growth over the past few years, primarily due to the rising population of working women, rise in organized retail marketing, and their concern for good nutrition for their babies. 
  • The changing demographics and societal structures are giving rise to the women workforce. These factors have played a key role in the success of the global market, particularly in the infant formulations category. The increasing awareness and knowledge over the importance and role of nutrition in an infant's growth is significantly helping the global market. 

The global baby food marketis segmentedby category, type, distribution channel, and region. The baby food market, on the basis of the category, is segmented into organic and conventional, by types into milk formula, dried baby food, ready-to-feed baby food, and others.

 This market is classified into mother’s milk substitutes, cereal-based foods, vegetable and fruit purees, frozen foods and others. By distribution channel, it is classified as drugstore/pharmacies, supermarkets/hypermarkets, convenience stores, online channels, and others.

 Also, the study provides an analysis of the baby food market in the emerging and established markets across the globe, including North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, South America, and Middle East & Africa.

Report scope can be customized per your requirements. Click here.

The rising number of malnutrition cases and health concerns for the overall growth of the babies represent the key factors driving the global organic baby food market. Improved economic conditions have resulted in increased expenditure by the parents.

Therefore, they are willing to spend on high-quality and expensive products for the wellness of their babies.

Also, organic baby food prevents the presence of any kind of pesticides in the baby's system as it is made of fruits and vegetables that are not sprayed with chemical pesticides, and meat from animals that are not given antibiotics or growth hormones.

It also does not contain any artificial flavors, preservatives or colors. Furthermore, urbanization and the growing working population, especially women, has encouraged convenience-oriented lifestyles, which is increasing the demand for organic baby food globally.

To understand key trends, Download Sample Report

North America and Europe holds the major share in baby food market

North America and Europe are the leading regions contributing to a very significant market share in the baby food market. North America is the largest market in terms of revenue.

The Asia-Pacific markets are expected to be very dynamic in the coming years, owing to its growing population and rising consumer spending in Asia-Pacific makes the region to look at for investments and expansion.

The increasing retail penetration and awareness about the products, combined with an increasing purchasing power, are cited as the major reasons for the baby food market growth. Emerging markets such as India, China and Indonesia are the major growth contributors in the growth of the baby food market in Asia-Pacific.

To understand geography trends, Download Sample Report.

The global market for baby food is fragmented, owing to the presence of large regional and domestic players in different countries.

Emphasis is given on the merger, expansion, acquisition, and partnership of the companies along with new product development as strategic approaches adopted by the leading companies to boost their brand presence among consumers.

Few of the leading companies in the baby food market are Nestle SA, Hain Celestial Group, Inc., Perrigo Company Plc., Danone, Hero Group, Abbott Laboratories, Mead Johnson & Company, LLC. and DMK Group among all.


    1. 1.1 Study Deliverables

    2. 1.2 Study Assumptions

    3. 1.3 Scope of the Study




    1. 4.1 Market Drivers

    2. 4.2 Market Restraints

    3. 4.3 Porter's Five Force Analysis

      1. 4.3.1 Threat of New Entrants

      2. 4.3.2 Bargaining Power of Buyers/Consumers

      3. 4.3.3 Bargaining Power of Suppliers

      4. 4.3.4 Threat of Substitute Products

      5. 4.3.5 Intensity of Competitive Rivalry


    1. 5.1 By Category

      1. 5.1.1 Organic

      2. 5.1.2 Conventional

    2. 5.2 By Type

      1. 5.2.1 Milk Formula

      2. 5.2.2 Dried Baby Food

      3. 5.2.3 Ready-to-Feed Baby Foods

      4. 5.2.4 Others

    3. 5.3 By Distribution Channel

      1. 5.3.1 Drugstores/Pharmacies

      2. 5.3.2 Supermarkets/Hypermarkets

      3. 5.3.3 Convenience Stores

      4. 5.3.4 Online Channels

      5. 5.3.5 Others

    4. 5.4 Geography

      1. 5.4.1 North America

        1. United States

        2. Canada

        3. Mexico

        4. Rest of North America

      2. 5.4.2 Europe

        1. United Kingdom

        2. Germany

        3. France

        4. Russia

        5. Italy

        6. Spain

        7. Rest of Europe

      3. 5.4.3 Asia-Pacific

        1. India

        2. China

        3. Japan

        4. Australia

        5. Rest of Asia-Pacific

      4. 5.4.4 South America

        1. Brazil

        2. Argentina

        3. Rest of South America

      5. 5.4.5 Middle East & Africa

        1. South Africa

        2. Saudi Arabia

        3. Rest of Middle East & Africa


    1. 6.1 Most Active Companies

    2. 6.2 Most Adopted Strategies

    3. 6.3 Market Share Analysis

    4. 6.4 Company Profiles

      1. 6.4.1 Nestle SA

      2. 6.4.2 Hain Celestial Group, Inc.

      3. 6.4.3 Perrigo Company Plc.

      4. 6.4.4 Danone

      5. 6.4.5 Hero Group

      6. 6.4.6 Abbott Laboratories

      7. 6.4.7 Mead Johnson & Company, LLC.

      8. 6.4.8 DMK Group

  7. *List Not Exhaustive


** Subject to Availability


The New Mom Economy: Meet The Startups Disrupting The $46 Billion Millennial Parenting Market

Meet the Women Disrupting the Baby Food Industry

When Vanessa Larco, partner at New Enterprise Associates, a Menlo, California-based venture firm, returned to work last July after having her first baby, she was thrilled. “I love my job,” says the 33-year-old. “When I returned I felt welcomed and wanted.

” Her first weeks went smoothly until she had to take her first business trip to Los Angeles. When her meetings ended earlier than expected, she rushed to LAX hoping to catch an earlier flight and be home for her newborn’s bedtime, a daily but important ritual between parent and baby.

But by the time she reached the ticket agent, the flight was completely booked.

“I’m not a crier, but I broke down hysterically,” she says. “I never saw it coming.”

The episode taught her that even working mothers who seem to “have it all”—an accommodating employer, a lucrative career and a contributing spouse—are in dire need of more support.

Larco, who normally invests in enterprise SaaS and fintech, began to explore digital health startups focused on the entire arc of early motherhood, from preconception to the “fourth trimester,” or the first three months of a newborn’s life.

Vanessa Larco and her baby. The venture investor from NEA has focused on startups in The New Mom … [+] Economy since having her first child.

Vanessa Larco

Last month, Larco led NEA’S $27.5 million Series B round in Cleo, a parental benefits app that partners with employers. (The app connects working parents with experts on everything from LGBTQ family planning to sleep-training and lactation consultants.

) And this is just NEA’s most recent stake in the startup ecosystem targeting new parents; the $20 billion firm—which has backed Groupon, and Salesforce—led a $20 million Series C for caregiving site Care.

com in 2010, and has participated in funding rounds for Willow (a wireless breast pump), Maisonette (a luxury retail marketplace for baby clothing) and Yumi (a baby food delivery startup).

“Women are choosing to go back to work and want both lives,” Larco says, “and we can fund the companies making it easier on women. It’s a huge opportunity.”

She’s not the only one who thinks so.

Over the past six years, investors across the country have poured $500 million into companies playing in what can be thought of as “the new mom economy” — all the apps, gadgets, products and services targeting first-time Millennial parents with a child under the age of one.

Forbes estimates the market size of this “new mom economy” stands at $46 billion today, a fraction of the $2.4 trillion spending power that American mothers control but a number that is, nonetheless, sure to grow as more Millennial women become mothers each year. (One million more per year, in fact.)

“Capturing the mom at the point of starting a family is incredibly powerful,” says Anu Duggal, partner at Female Founders Fund. Duggal notes that it’s at this point in a parent’s life that habits are being formed, so capture them once and a brand has them forever.

Anu Duggal, Female Founders Fund

Female Founders Fund

“This is a massive market opportunity that has been overlooked by the venture capital community,” she adds. Or, at least, overlooked by many of the men of Silicon Valley.

The Female Founders Fund has invested in six women-led companies that support new moms, including Peanut (a Tinder for mothers with 650,000 members) and Primary (a direct-to-consumer children’s clothing brand that has $27.8 million in funding).

So what exactly are Millennial moms asking for that Gen Xers and Boomers did not? Wireless breast pumps and organic baby food delivery is just a start; innovators playing in this space have developed everything from robotic bassinets to the infant version of StitchFix. Here’s a look at how it all breaks down:

Your Guide To The New Mom Economy: The Startups Disrupting Parenthood As We Know It

Here are some of the leading companies aiming to improve motherhood. Initially, gadget startups 4moms, Hatchbaby, Owlet and Snoo were the first to gain investor interest. The space has since expanded to digital wellness, community apps and more. As of Mother's Day 2019, these startups have attracted $500 million in VC.

The New Mom Economy


Now, just because Millennials want to enter parenthood with as many apps as they used to find their partners doesn’t mean Silicon Valley was (or even entirely is now) on board.

Shannon Spanhake, one of Cleo’s cofounders, says VCs weren’t initially convinced until female executives from Slack and Reddit as well as one particular high-profile investor came on board and helped her gain some street credibility on Sand Hill Road: former Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer.

“Marissa has experience as a mom and a CEO who sees both sides of the challenge for working moms and employers,” says Spanhake. Mayer is also investing in The Wonder, a brick-and-mortar experiential center that engages both parents and children.

Who's Backing The Baby Startups?

The common thread investors funding The New Mom Economy


For all the X chromosomes dominating the investment landscape in this part of the world, there are some brave (and arguably savvy) men who are waking up to the opportunity here. Jeff Immelt, former CEO of GE, has also invested in Cleo.

Motherly’s lead investor is BeCurious Partners, a firm whose portfolio is entirely on parenting tech and happens to be led by four men. And two years ago, Black Jays Investment, an investment firm led by Amit Sharma and Brian Muller, was the sole seed investor in Hatch Collection, a maker of chic staples a woman can wear before, during and after pregnancy.

“It simply fit our investment thesis of backing D2C companies that are exploiting a market where there is no clear winner,” says Muller.

Nor do you have to be a parent to innovate in this space. Spanhake says for now, Cleo has been her only baby. “I know these startups are often started by a new parent but for me this is about supporting families and women who are facing a career cliff,” she says.

It’s a noble goal, but ultimately, the majority of startups in this ecosystem are still in their own infancy; their success is relatively unproven, and the $500 million invested in the new mom economy is just a fraction of what these companies need in order to scale. Preventing women from falling off that cliff will require a dual effort from founders Spanhake and investors Muller, Duggal and Larco. After all: It takes a village.


Little Spoons, Big Success: How Her Small Business Broke Into the Baby Food Industry

Meet the Women Disrupting the Baby Food Industry
Little Spoons co-founder Michelle Muller offers relatable strategies and advice from her own experiences as an entrepreneur.

As a single mother of three with an innate passion for cooking, Michelle Muller had long since taken on the role of short-order chef for her children.

But it wasn’t until Muller’s third child started eating solid foods that she was struck with an entrepreneurial idea.

“I personally made all the food for my kids, and it was very stressful,” she says. “I lost a lot of sleep over it, but I had a moment of clarity when I thought, ‘If I’m having this struggle, then surely other parents are, too.’”

She continued: “I think it’s ridiculous that we’re living in this amazing, modern society filled with incredible technology at our fingertips [and yet there are relatively few modern solutions] when it comes to feeding your child.”

Excited to provide parents with another baby food option, Muller launched her New York City-based startup, Little Spoon, in 2017, with Ben Lewis, CEO; Angela Vranich, chief product officer; and Lisa Barnett, CMO. Little Spoon describes its mission as enhancing the overall health of the general public by starting in the formative babyhood years.

“Our country and our children are the unhealthiest they’ve ever been,” Muller says. “Little Spoon is combatting that by giving parents an affordable, easy option to expose their children to as much fresh, organic ingredients and flavors as possible.”

She added: “I feel this is such a simple step you can take from day one to set your child up for success that will genuinely carry their eating habits all the way through adulthood.”

Caring for a business in its infancy

Getting a food business off the ground can be a huge undertaking. For the Little Spoon team, one of the most notable early challenges was ensuring the highest levels of safety and cleanliness, since they were dealing with baby food. The team spent about a year making sure that they could provide families with a high-quality product.

“It was very time consuming, but at the end of the day our team was determined to do it the right way and not shortcut,” Muller says.

Now, Little Spoon is USDA Certified Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, and has its own kitchen in Southern California. The company has also created partnerships with farms and producers to supply fresh ingredients year-round.

But that’s not the only thing that makes this baby food company different.

“We create customized nutrition plans for the child,” Muller says. “It’s not just creating the spectacular recipes that taste good and have all these awesome, exotic superfoods packed in. [We help expose] babies to these ingredients, and that helps set them up for a beautifully expanded palette, which makes them much more accepting of different ingredients down the road.”

To benefit from the nutrition plan, which the company calls Blueprint, parents have to provide several different details about their child.

As children grow and hit different developmental milestones, their customized plan changes so they continue to receive the right macro and micro nutrients and vitamins.

The team collaborates with a nutrition council on all recipes to ensure that each Little Spoon product is packed with the right ingredients to optimize children for successful development.

Right now, Little Spoon is 100% e-commerce-based and sends packages directly to customers, allowing Muller and her team to change flavors every week and test new products while making real-time adjustments customer feedback.

The ability to be nimble in production and the types of relationships fostered with customers are sources of pride for Muller — and so is the Little Spoon packaging.

“From the box to the insulation that keeps the food cold to the containers themselves to the materials that help explain how the process works, every single thing that comes to your house is 100% curbside recyclable,” she says. “We are really conscious about our impact on the environment.”

For moms, by moms

As co-founder and chief mom at Little Spoon, Michelle is on the clock 24/7, her laptop constantly open by her side. She takes 20-25 calls from customers every week, eager to help the families who rely on her product have the best experience possible.

Thankfully, Muller started Little Spoon off on the right foot — by having a small but driven team of partners to help her create a solid foundation for the business. Currently, the company has five full-time employees and nine part-time employees — and Muller is eager to continue growing.

“You cannot do this alone,” she says. “It’s too much. In the second breath of saying ‘Find a partner,’ I would also say ‘Find a partner who has a different skill set from you.’ I think it’s really important to find that balance with a partner or partners who compliment your skill set so you can build off of each other.”

Now, Muller and her team have their eyes set on the future, with a focus on educating parents and expanding the company’s line of products. And for its founder, Little Spoon isn’t just abfering babies the best nutritional diets — it’s also about supporting parents in and the workplace.

“The fact is that we’re offering parents the ability to take one thing off their list,” she says. “That, I would assume, helps out with the stress level and gives parents back several hours every week that they don’t have to spend cooking or cleaning.”

She brings that mindset of helping parents into the Little Spoon office, fostering a culture of positivity, support and balance. Her dedication to creating that culture manifests in her hiring choices.

“Our whole customer care team is made up of moms that are working part-time,” she says. “I’m just super proud that we’re able to help moms who can’t necessarily dedicate a full-time schedule to working but they know that they want to have some source of balance in their life.”

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