Made to order: India’s baby food brand rolls out new manufacturing model to meet demand for fresh products
The company, founded by Aswani Chaitanya and his sister Hima Bindu in 2016, entered the baby food category with the launch of its baby porridge this month.
This adds on to the company’s existing portfolio of toddler snacks, including pre-, probiotics bites, melts, and energy bars.
Its newly introduced baby porridge range consists of 12 variants, catered to babies and toddlers between six and 18 months old.
Interestingly, the company has adopted a “made-to-order” model exclusively for this line of products, where online orders are processed once received and shipped out from the facility on the same day.
Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, Aswani said the purpose was to provide fresh products and at the same time, it was expected that there would be sufficient orders across India to process newly received orders daily.
“We believe that babies should eat fresh food and there is enough volume across the country to do so. I think this would work and there is also a strong reason to do this.”
The company owns three factories in Hyderabad and a cleanroom processing facility exclusively for its porridge products.
The company also offers subscription model as well as selling the baby porridge in 350 stores, including organic and kids/baby products stores.
“The baby porridge products are also available in stores because we cannot bring a complete shift to the made-to-order model in one day or one night, it takes time.
“As soon as parents know that this is available fresh, they will start buying it fresh and ordering it fresh, and that's how we will scale.”
The ready-to-cook porridge comes in a grind mixture with a shelf life of maximum nine months. It could be served after two to three minutes of cooking.
All 12 variants contain rice, millets, and wheat, which are traditionally consumed in India.
They differ mainly in the types of vegetables and fruits used.
According to Aswani, the 12 variants could be further broken down into three categories – for babies six months, eight months, and 10 months old. More vegetables are added as the baby grows and made according to regulatory guidelines and advice from paediatricians.
Examples of vegetables used include carrot, spinach, and beetroot.
In general, children prefer products that taste sweet. To meet this preference, the company thus used a mixture of fruits and vegetables in its newly introduced porridge range.
In India, parents are willing to try out new products for their children so long as the products are certified organic, Aswani said.
“The product need not be completely instant, so long as its organic and USDA certified, the parents will buy and try it.
“The parents also are not looking for fanciful items for their babies, but the basic products which can be trusted for their quality.”
On the other hand, he said that parents, especially those from the metropolitan cities, were looking for products that offer the ease of convenience.
He added that product portion was also another consideration for parents buying new products. When trying a new product, parents would prefer to buy it in a smaller portion size, he said.
The company’s best-selling items are melts, munchies, and energy bars.
The products are mainly sold in first tier cities such as Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Mumbai, but tier two cities are also catching up.
“There is also a strong digital uptake in tier two cities, where consumers also have the habit of buying our products online.
“Because of COVID-19, people from the tier one cities have also returned to work in their hometowns in the tier two cities, which is another reason why uptake in tier two cities is increasing,” he said.
Aside from its website, the company also sells its products on Amazon, Bigbasket, Firstcry, and Flipkart.
Moving forward, the company intends to introduce more baby foods products.
This could include instant baby cereal, teething biscuits, pureed fruits and vegetables, and freeze-dried finger foods, Aswani said.
“Baby food is a new category that is growing in India…For us, having started in toddler snacks, this is a logical transition for us to go into.”