- Organic baby food delivery service Yumi has officially launched after securing $4.1 million in seed investment from VC firms Brand Foundry, August Capital and NEA, as well as several angel investors, according to Tech Crunch. The Los Angeles-based service is available throughout California, but Yumi founders plan future expansion.
- Meals from the subscription service range from $6.07 to $8.33, and are made with fresh fruits, vegetables and no preservatives. Co-founder Angela Sutherland calls offerings like rosewater-soaked oats "a new kind of baby food" that parents can enjoy as well.
- New, health-conscious millennial parents are Yumi's target demographic. "You used to live in a town where your mom and your grandma lived, and they used to help you. But now you live far away from home, and they might not know the right [baby] food to cook anymore," Sutherland told Business Insider. "We want to support you, as a mother, so you don't have to think about those things."
Despite many analysts' predictions that the meal delivery trend would fizzle, consumer demand continues to hold strong as people seek convenient ways to make tasty, nutritious food without spending hours in the kitchen. Yumi is one of the only services on the market that delivers baby food — a potentially lucrative move that will be worth watching.
Trusted brands like Gerber, which represents about 25% of the baby food market, are attempting to entice millennial parents with baby food purees that use trendy ingredients like quinoa, kale and other superfoods. According to a Mintel study, many parents regularly eat their children's baby food, whether to test for food safety or to finish their child's half-eaten container. Because of this, many baby food manufacturers products that reflect trends in the adult food space.
Sales of major brands are hurting, however. Gerber's sales dropped 2% in 2016 as more parents began preparing baby food at home and upstart brands began to shoulder their way into the $55 billion baby food market. Yumi's premium products, which are chef-prepared and developed in partnership with nutritionist Nicole Avena, could cause further disruption in the space. At the same time, they could expose a growth opportunity for major brands to follow.
Some food industry experts assert that homemade, organic baby food can be healthier than store-bought brands because freshly prepared organic purees contain more texture, ingredient variety and good bacteria than commercial products. Still, research into pediatric nutrition is still fairly new, and it's unclear if Yumi's meals are truly healthier than those on the grocery shelf.
It will be interesting to see how Yumi will fare in the frontier of baby food delivery. It's not the first company to enter the space — that would be Raised Real, another California-based company, which sends parents organic ingredients that they puree at home. New York startup Little Spoon also delivers preservative-free fresh baby food, and is backed by the founders of Chobani and Tinder. Thistle has also recently expanded its portfolio to include meal kits for babies and toddlers under its brand Thistle Baby.
Only time will tell which service will come out on top, if any survive at all. Though demand for organic foods is at an all-time high, products like Yumi meals are expensive, and it seems unlikely that the average parent will seek out high-end baby food when they can buy store products or make it themselves for significantly cheaper. Still, these services could find a consumer base in more affluent urban communities, a market that has proved lucrative for other meal kit services.