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Early years nutrition giant Gerber has launched a new all plant-based range. Plant-tastic is a selection of organic pouches, snacks and meals made using only plant protein sources. The move comes after Gerber announced in 2021 that it will be striving to create more climate-friendly products. Plant-tastic has been certifed as carbon neutral by the Carbon Trust.
Bought by Nestlé in 2007 for $5.5 billon, Gerber is the world’s largest baby food company in terms of total annual sales. The company has reported a shift in what its consumers are looking for, specifically an increase in demand for plant-based child nutrition. Plant-tastic is an attempt to meet said demand.
Parents directing development
“We hear from parents they want more plant-based protein options that align with their food and climate values,” Tarun Malkani, Gerber President and CEO said in a statement. “Gerber Plant-tastic offers stage-based nutrition across milestones starting with organic toddler pouches, snacks and meals. We are proud the full range of Plant-tastic products is certified carbon neutral, furthering our commitment to climate forward nutrition.”
FMI’s Grocery Shopper Trends Report for 2022 reveals that 81 percent of households featuring children buy and serve plant-based protein. 40 percent of those with children under 18 are actively looking to increase the amount of plant-based foods served weekly. When prepared with nutritional needs in mind, plant-based diets have been shown to be suitable for family members of all ages, plus furry household members.
Accounting for new dietary guidelines
U.S. dietary guidelines have been amended to include legumes for children under two. Gerber claims that every recipe it has developed has legumes at the centre, including chickpeas, lentils and black beans. It combines them with whole grains, fruits and vegetables to create balanced meals without conventional meat and dairy. These meals can mirror what parents are eating if they are reducing their animal product intake.
“Many parents of my patients incorporate plant-based options in their own diet and are looking to feed their baby in line with their own food values,” Gerber Pediatric Consultant Dr. Whitney Casares said in a statement. “Gerber Plant-tastic foods are made with beans, whole grains and veggies – which are packed with nutrients such as protein and fiber to support baby’s healthy development.”
Gerber was the first U.S. baby food manufacturer to commit to reaching carbon neutrality across its entire portfolio. The deadline for completion is 2035, with the Carbon Trust certifying efforts. Alongside the Plant-tastic range, Gerber Organic and Natural jars and pouches have been deemed carbon neutral.
The growing number of plant-based babies
Gerber came under fire last year, alongside fellow commercial baby food giant Beechnut, for failing to adequately test for and remove toxic heavy metals from its products. Multiple class-action lawsuits are still in progress surrounding the issue. As a result, a number of independent baby food brands sought to meet the demand for safe, healthy alternatives to big-name products.
In December last year, Yumi revealed it had scooped $67 million to improve its distribution of plant-based baby food. The LA-based company was looking to use the funding to create an omni-channel experience for consumers who want access to gluten and allergen-free nutrition with no-added sugar and no animal products. Also in the U.S., vegan brand Tiny Organics recently launched finger foods for babies, to help with baby-led weaning.
In the U.K., Mamamade closed an oversubscribed crowdfunding raise in January, to support company growth. Focused on climate-friendly vegan meals, the company delivers bundles of meals that can be safely frozen and reheated when needed.
Lead photo created using Gerber product images.