For example, Heather Stouffer, who launched her business in 2006, says many parents still struggle to find healthy, clean label products that will satisfy picky eaters and fit within their budgets.
“We as parents know that we need to feed our kids healthy foods, but we also have a budget that we are sticking to, and we also have kids who are picky eaters, and we also want to please our kids. So, all these factors are involved in getting us to often stray from what we might think is a healthy product. So, our buying patterns are different than our nutritional values, if you will,” Stouffer told FoodNavigator-USA.
But, she added, parents don’t have to make those compromises when they buy Mom Made Foods’ frozen meals for their children in part because the company doesn’t compromise on high quality ingredients and doesn’t pass the extra cost on to the consumer.
“Our product development is very complicated because we make it difficult on ourselves. We are trying to pack in as much nutrition as we can, high quality ingredients. We are not trying, like many other food companies, to cut the costs of the ingredients or look for the least expensive ingredients. We are really looking for the best ingredients and nutritional value,” she said.
And by doing so, she added, “we are trying to meet the consumer where they are with their actual buying pattern.”
Mom Made Foods is able to offer premium products not at premium prices by finding cost-savings elsewhere in the food production, packaging and distribution model.
“In our early days, we were not making profits. And it took a very long time to figure out that once you get the volume, it is not just the product. It is the freight. It is the storage. It is the packaging. There are so many other elements to making a product outside of the ingredients, and we look at really all of those costs” to figure out how we can be cost efficient but still offer high quality ingredients, she explained.
Parents are becoming more sophisticated
In the 12-plus years that Stouffer has led Mom Made Foods, she says, parents have become increasingly sophisticated about their children’s nutritional needs – pushing her and others to continually innovate and improve their products.
“In 2006, I think there was a trend that parents wanted to feed their kids organic foods, and that started to look more closely at nutritionals,” and since then they have continued to look for products with less sugar, lower sodium, no artificial ingredients or artificial colors, she said. “They are looking for cleaner, simpler ingredients.”
And that is why Mom Made Foods has a philosophy that a first grader should be able to read its labels and understand what is inside.
The company also is against hiding ingredients – including vegetables. Stouffer says consumers should know what they are eating, in part because that is how they learn to eat well.
This evolution away from unfamiliar ingredients and preservatives has helped drive growth for Mom Made Foods, which from the beginning used freezing as its preservative in order to avoid unfamiliar sounding ingredients. And while the brand’s focus on quality has helped it earn national distribution in many major retailers, Stouffer isn’t resting on her laurels.
“Over the next two years, we are well poised for very significant growth and focused. We have some very strategic projects we are working on and looking at additional products to launch,” she said, adding, “We have caught our breath, and it is [now about] growing much more strategically and expanding on that success.”
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how the children’s food and beverage space is evolving at our Food For Kids Summit in Chicago this month. Get all the details and register HERE.]