Baby food: adapting and learning during COVID-19
Lowri Tan, Managing Director of Little Tummy, gives her insight as to how the lockdown period has impacted the baby food market and prompted an increase in demand for baby food delivery services.
Little Tummy is a young but growing company with a strong commitment to producing nutritious, healthy, convenient and honest baby food for busy parents, to make their lives easier and babies’ lives healthier.
The current baby food market is stuck in the 1930s and has seen no real innovation since that time. What you see in the supermarkets often has a shelf life of just two years; older in fact than your baby! There is a definite gap in the market for a fresh, healthy, nutritious and convenient offering which could transform the future of the baby food market.
We have recognised too that there is a clear demand from parents for chilled, fresh baby food; juices, nut milks and even dog food are successfully moving to the chilled category so why not baby food? It was also apparent even before COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown that there was a demand for a delivery service (Mintel 2020).
It is clear that the lockdown has accelerated the trend towards direct to consumer services (D2C). Circumstances encouraged people to overcome that initial barrier of having to familiarise themselves with online delivery and they realised how straightforward and convenient it can be. It became, in fact, the easy option. With the initial problems of finding delivery slots from larger online providers, many households were encouraged to search for specialist online providers for their fruit and vegetables and their meat, so why not search for a baby box too?
It is clear that the lockdown has accelerated the trend towards direct to consumer services (D2C).
Inevitably the lockdown provided challenges, but as we had started out as a D2C brand, not currently dependent on retail, we were in a strong position to ride the storm of the pandemic. As a young company too, we are used to constant change and respond well to problem solving. We are delighted that we have had a 158 percent increase in D2C sales compared to the same time last year!
We had already developed a strong connection with our online parent community which enables us to respond quickly to parents’ concerns and changing needs. We recognised that, at this time, there is heightened anxiety levels and it was particularly important that we were available to support them. Sophie, our co-founder and in-house Paediatrician, has throughout ensured that we provide an educational, reassuring and welcoming platform. With many households being dual income and both parents working from home with no childcare during the lockdown period, the need for healthy but convenient baby food was even more essential.
Many households were encouraged to search for specialist online providers for their fruit and vegetables and their meat, then logically why not search for a baby box too?
As a company, we have become increasingly aware of the importance of reliable third-party providers to ensure the smooth running of our supply chain and D2C service. We have been very fortunate to work with a strong team of suppliers who went above and beyond to ensure that we had no issues with sourcing ingredients and no delivery delays, whilst also adhering to strict food safety guidelines and ensuring that employees are operating in a safe environment with the necessary personal protective equipment provided.
Throughout this period, our team effort and commitment to the product has actually strengthened. It has been a challenging but fulfilling time during which we have been able to focus our minds on what is essential to the success of our company and the future progression of the baby food market.
About the author
Lowri’s career took a rather circuitous route from a gap year Zookeeper to a baby food maker, via Chemical Engineering, working on the design and build of chocolate production lines, setting up her own silk painting business and on to Little Tummy. It has been a route from the corporate to the entrepreneurial and a fascinating learning curve. She is finding her role as Managing Director in LT to be one of the most exciting in her career to date.