Junk food is easy to sell to children; even if their parents don't want them to have that bag of Cheetos in the snack food aisle, kids will find a way to get a hold of it. But coming up with healthy food that both parents and kids will enjoy? That's not a simple task. Nest Collective, an accelerator for wellness food brands geared toward kids, is making a go of it with two brands: Plum Organics and Revolution Foods.
Nest was created by Sheryl O'Loughlin and Neil Grimmer in 2007. The pair, both of whom are busy parents, wanted to acquire brands that spoke to their passions. "We want the best food for our kids, but the marketplace doesn't have organic, healthy, yummy products out there," O'Loughlin explains. "When we started out, we were looking for beautiful brands with a story." So Sheryl (the former CEO of Clif Bar), and Neil (a former senior designer at IDEO) snapped up both Revolution and Plum.
The reason: "Older-school brand like Gerber have products for everything from babies to toddlers, but there are no brands serving that role for the modern parent with sensibilities in style and design," she says.
Revolution Foods is dedicated to bringing healthy, tasty food to school lunchboxes. The tactic makes sense, O'Loughlin explains, because 50% of kids bring their lunch to school. Among Revolution's more creative offerings: the Jammy Sammy (a snack-sized sandwich bar), the Grammy Sammy (a yogurt-filled sandwich bar), and Mashups (organic squeezable fruit). The clever names and fun packaging are key to attracting customers—and it helps that the products are tasty, too. "We continue to build our portfolio with food that tastes really, really good," O'Loughlin says.
Nest's most successful venture thus far has been with Plum Organics, now the leading organic baby food brand in the U.S. Nest ditched the traditional baby food jars for Plum, opting instead to use pouches that are both convenient and portable. According to O'Loughlin, the packages have a much lighter footprint than jars do—pouches are lighter and smaller than jars, so they require less fuel when being transported by truck.
Nest's other big innovation with Plum is the Plum Dispensing Spoon, a one-handed baby food-dispensing spoon that attaches to Plum's baby food pouches. Nest developed the concept and brought it to market in just six months.
When Nest started in 2007, organic, healthy children's food was still something of a novelty. That's not the case anymore. It's been a little bit of a wake-up call," O'Loughlin says. "We're figuring out how to put our stake in the ground now and secure leadership in these categories."
Judging by Plum and Revolution's past successes, it shouldn't be too difficult. "We don't have the deep pockets, so we want to keep it simple, do it fast, and do it through innovation," O'Loughlin says.