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An Organic Opportunity

By Darrin Duber-Smith


He did it for Annie's Homegrown, so why can't he do it for a two year-old start up that wants to market USDA Certified Organic baby food to the health-conscious masses? John Foraker took a small natural products brand and turned it into an acquisition target for General Mills, a rather large food concern. And now he holds the reins at Once Upon A Farm, a very small purveyor of refrigerated organic baby food.


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The organic baby food sector now comprises $415 million of the total $1.75 billion market for baby food in the U.S., and dollar sales have risen 25% over the last two years, reflecting a very healthy demand for even healthier baby food. At least that's what an increasing number of Americans believe, and so the organic category continues to outpace all others in the packaged foods business.


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But battling the likes of Gerber, Beech-Nut, and Cambell Soup's Plum Organics will be difficult. The company will have to attract enough private equity to obtain shelf space in major retailers and provide marketing support in the form of consumer advertising, sales promotion, public relations, etc. All of this will require a substantial investment, and so more money may be needed in addition to Mr. Foraker's investment.


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But help is already on the way in the form of a very major celebrity who has also decided to invest in the company, Jennifer Garner. Her star power and endorsement should help matters a great deal, as the company expands its product mix and attempts to innovate in a sector that has lacked meaningful innovation for a long time. She has even indicated that her family farm will grow some ingredients for the line, which, along with some downhome "As mom's we all..." messaging, could make for a great creative strategy. And consumers love a good creative strategy. Let's see what marketers come up with.