January 2019 - 12

Growers help produce unique baby food
By Stephen Kloosterman
Associate Editor
Growers planted new crops and grew
them organically in order to help baby
food giant Nestlé put a groundbreaking
line of baby food products in stores.
Gerber Freshful Start is a new
line of baby food being stocked in
refrigerators in the babies' retail
section of select Walmart stores.
The products are aimed at
consumers interested in homemade
baby food while offering some
convenience for preparing the food.
" I think what's interesting about
it is the refrigerators are actually in
the baby aisle, " said David Greci,
Sr. brand manager for Nestlé Infant
Nutrition, the parent company of
Gerber Products. " Typically, we've
had competitors who have launched
refrigerated products before, but
they haven't been in the baby aisle.
But what's interesting about Freshful
Start is we have four product types
that cover a range of different
developmental or eating milestones
from babies that are just starting to eat
solid food to older toddlers who are
able to have a more complex meal. To
my knowledge, we're the first brand to
launch coolers in the aisle as well as
have such a diverse range of food. "
On October 15, 2018, Gerber
Freshful Start was launched at about
This Gerber Freshful Start refrigerator is in the babies' retail section of Walmart stores where the products are being sold in select
markets. Photos: Nestlé
50 Walmart stores in the Dallas and
Kansas City/northwest Arkansas
markets - that's a pretty fast track for a
project that by Greci's description was
only an idea back in July 2017.
" It's kind of working in an
entrepreneurial mindset to get this
launched, " Greci said. " It was kind of
like running our own business. "
Growers responded with enthusiasm
to the project. Nestlé buys fruit and
vegetables from growers in 10 different
states, but some of the growers are
located near the Fremont, Michigan,
where the Gerber Products was
founded in 1928. Gerber became
part of Nestlé in 2007, and today has
processing facilities in Portsmouth,
Arkansas, as well as Fremont. It also
uses some third-party production.
Gerber Fresh Start required a
few crops the growers hadn't grown
previously but Nestlé buyer Chris
Falak tried to stick mostly with
existing growers such as Crystal Valley
Organics near Hart, Michigan.
" We try to reward our existing
growers in any and all cases like this, "
said Falak, who also serves on the board
of directors for the Michigan Vegetable
Council. " The response has been
great. When they get an opportunity
to expand their business and try
12 | VegetableGrowersNews.com
http://www.VegetableGrowersNews.com

January 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of January 2019

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