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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: When you think of baby food you probably think about mushed peas and carrots, but that “mush” is a huge business worth nearly $4 billion. Now two couples have come up with a way to reinvent the industry. They’re also changing what babies eat. Marketplace’s Lisa Napoli takes us behind the scenes of these two companies.
LISA NAPOLI: Tim Daulter is something of a modern day milkman.
Two nights a week, he and his delivery team hit the streets of Southern California with their hybrid cars and drop off orders into coolers customers have left on their doorsteps.
TIM DAULTER: Here’s somebody who ordered 8 jars of food for this week. This customer has a bigger baby so this is kind of our bigger baby food. This is actually a basil pesto pasta, but we use a mini-type pasta for the baby so he doesn’t have to chew too much. This is a quinoa with vegetables in it, and quinoa is a grain, it’s got a lot of protein and it’s a super healthy type thing.
“Super healthy type thing” is the premise behind the business Tim and his wife Anni started a year ago.
It’s called Bohemian Baby.
All natural, organic, hand-cooked twice a week under Tim’s supervision and tested on his daughter. It’s $3.50 a jar.
DAULTER: It is a shift in consciousness because people are used to paying 50 cents for a jar.
Now Teresa Kiene would have happily paid for homemade baby food when her three kids were young. Now she’s making it for total strangers.
In the tasting room of Kiene’s new business, Baby Allison is about to try out the peas.
[ Kiene: May I put this bib on you? Is it okay if I put this bib on you? . . . ]
A year ago Kiene and her husband quit their jobs in television to create Homemade Baby. Now they have 13 employees, including a chef who studied at the famous culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu.
Behind the tasting room is a commercial kitchen.
TERESA KIENE: After the food has been prepped, everything is hand-prepped, it goes into this kettle. And right now we’re cooking pears. Itcooks and it forms a bit of the reduction so you get intense flavor and sweetness of the pears-and you get a lot of fiber and a lot of nutrients.
Business is growing at a healthy clip: Whole Foods has even picked up the brand in some of its stores.
These rival baby food businesses have different strategies, but their goal is the same: To attract parents who want to start their kids off right in an age of junk food and obesity
DAULTER: We try and say babies are people too and so they deserve delicious food, even if they can’t clearly communicate that they want something a little bit different. And hoping that will set some habits for their lifetime of eating in addition to maybe raising the consciousness of the parents as far as how they eat and hopefully kind of shift everybody towards more organic fresh type foods.
And perhaps grow a healthy business, too.
In Los Angeles, I’m Lisa Napoli for Marketplace.
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