The nonprofit Partnership for a Healthier America wants food companies to embrace new guidelines that exclude adding sugars to vegetables for babies and toddlers under its new “Veggies: Early And Often” icon.
Building on the work begun by former First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative to combat childhood obesity, PHA announced the campaign in a virtual event today.
The overarching theme of the campaign is that it’s healthier to get children used to the taste of vegetables themselves, as opposed to mixing sweeteners into veggies.
It’s based on federal government dietary guidelines released last month that recommends sugar not be added to food marketed for consumption by kids under two years old.
The PHA’s awareness and education activity aims to educate parents, caregivers, health professionals “and, significantly, baby food makers about the critical importance of early and repeated exposure to vegetables,” said PHA president and CEO Nancy Roman.
“Ultimately, our goal is to shift the conversation from one that claims kids don’t like vegetables to [the idea that] kids can learn to love vegetables.”
The broccoli-adorned “Veggies: Early And Often” icon will be “a reliable indicator for parents and consumers helping them to differentiate which vegetable products actually contain meaningful amounts of vegetables," says Roman.
Founded in 2010, PHA will use digital platforms to disseminate educational content while partnering with Cooking Matters, author Bettina Elias Siegel, KinderCare Education National WIC Association and the Dr. Yum Project.
Organizations and brands that now meet the icon requirements or plan to include Fresh Bellies, Good Feeding, Learning Care Group, lil’gourmets, Nurture Life, Tiny Organics and Square Baby.
Founded in 2015 by former NBA vice president of marketing Saskia Sorrosa, Fresh Bellies started marketing vegetable purees without fruit flavorings, instead using such non-kid flavors as basil, garlic and yellow onions.
“When we started the business, our focus was on never masking vegetables,” Sorrosa tells Marketing Daily. “People were looking at us like we were aliens. They couldn’t grasp the concept of a child eating beats seasoned with thyme, or roasted bell pepper strips.”
As Fresh Bellies expanded its offerings beyond infants to toddlers in 2019, its retail distribution expanded from 200 stores to 2,000. Aided by the pandemic, it’s now in 4,000 stores.
“There has been a change in the market in what families are looking for,” says Sorrosa.
This week, Fresh Bellies will launch garlic-, mushroom- and sage-enhanced snacks called Groovies—the base ingredients of which are the gluten-free grain sorghum and vegetables -- “the first time that these two ingredients merge into the toddler/preschooler space,” says Sorrosa.