A new packaging design for Happy Baby Organics Clearly Crafted baby food features glass jars, a preferred food packaging format for many parents. The expansion into jars also makes the premium, organic brand available to low-income parents participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), because jars are on the limited list of WIC-approved packaging formats for organic baby food.
The 4-oz Clearly Crafted jars launched in March 2018 in the United States; brand owner Happy Family Organics hopes to expand distribution globally. Ten organic baby food recipes are now available in the jars:
“As part of our innovation process, we ask for and incorporate a lot of feedback from parents on our designs and recipes and include a variety of fruits and vegetables to really bring something new to the jar category that has been in existence for decades,” says Regina Fechter, vp, innovation and business development, at Happy Family Organics.
“We use glass jars because many parents prefer to introduce solid foods to their babies in glass,” she adds. “Our closure is press-on/twist-off, which offers excellent oxygen barriers and superior tamper-resistance.” The package also provides transparency, literally: Clear pressure-sensitive labels printed with colorful graphics offer consumers a good view of the food inside the jars.
Fechter answers some questions about the new packaging and Happy Family Organics’ work with the WIC program.
Was the main reason for expanding into glass jars to get on the WIC-approved list?
Fechter: Yes, we’ve been wanting to launch a line of organic products that are eligible for families in the WIC program for years to fulfill our mission to change the trajectory of children’s health through nutrition. The WIC program does not approve pouches, so doing a 4-oz jar or cup was the only option. We chose glass because of its purity and recyclability—two things that all moms are looking for.
Was attracting jar-loving non-WIC parents an equally strong motivator for expanding into jars?
Fechter: Absolutely—the simple truth is that all parents want the very best for their babies and toddlers, and that means clean, organic and nutritious foods. Whether moms are eligible for WIC benefits or not, they want to have the intimate experience of spoon feeding their baby from a glass jar.
Can you quantify what percent of Happy Family’s sales are, or will be, through the WIC program?
Fechter: Sales from WIC will be very small for the first couple of years. The process to get approvals is a slow one, because we need to go state by state. Then we need to collaborate with each state agency to get listed on their food cards, which is how parents learn about which items are eligible. These food cards only get published once a year.
What is Happy Family’s market share of the WIC market?
Fechter: Our market share is still very low since we’re so new. We hope to grow our share in the 12 states that approve organic baby food to provide moms with more options for their little ones.
How much of a packaging-line investment did the jar project represent for Happy Family Organics?
Fechter: We work with a trusted manufacturing partner to produce our jar, so the investment made was in building our partnership together and ensuring that we were able to launch with a transparent label as opposed to a paper label that is seen on the majority of jars.
Is Happy Family filling the jars at its own plant or using a contract manufacturer?
Fechter: We use a trusted contract manufacturer based in Pennsylvania. However, our Happy Family Organics R&D and quality teams are very involved in the entire process. Our team of food scientists created each recipe in our test kitchen, and our quality team performs audits on every partner to ensure we hit our strict quality standards. I, personally, have also visited the plant.
What was the graphic-design strategy for this package?
Fechter: Our design strategy is to always be as transparent as possible about the organic fruits and veggies in each jar by using macro photography and also to cue flavor through our cap colors. Our Happy Baby Organics Clearly Crafted line of products is centered around complete transparency. Each pouch and jar feature the exact recipe that’s inside—for example, half an apple and 10 blueberries—from the partners they trust to grow each ingredient. We are proud to be the first organic jar to share a recipe story on-pack, despite there being limited space for communication on the label.
Who designed the package graphics?
Fechter: We do all of our packaging design in-house. Design is such a huge part of our brand identity that it is very important for our team to have creative control over the process.
How is Happy Family advocating for the expansion of organic options in the WIC program?
Fechter: Almost half of the four million babies born each year are eligible for the WIC program, which provides important food access and nutrition coaching to parents and babies. We are proud to be working with various state WIC organizations toward state authorization of our Happy Baby Organics Clearly Crafted Jars, knowing that the first 1,000 days of a baby’s life is a vital window that defines a child’s wellness blueprint.
We are actively advocating for the expansion of organic options in the WIC program through discussions with state leaders around the benefits of organic. In some cases, these conversations have led to a state’s first-ever acceptance of organic infant fruits and vegetable purees. It’s exciting to see the momentum within WIC right now; California was the first state to authorize organic baby fruit and veggie purees back in 2011. Since then, we’ve seen 11 other states approve organic in the past six years, because they are responding to what parents want to feed their babies.
How many states have certified Happy Baby Organics Clearly Crafted Jars for the WIC program?
Fechter: Our Happy Baby Organics Clearly Crafted Jars are certified in Florida, Minnesota, Texas, West Virginia and Vermont (approximately 20% of the WIC market). We have plans for certification in the remaining seven states that accept organic foods and in a number of other additional states that do not currently accept organic baby food under WIC.
How have consumers reacted to the jars?
Fechter: Parents and babies love our jars so far! We are seeing very positive data in our trial and repeat levels, which is one of the best metrics we can use to know if parents are really enjoying our recipes and coming back for more. We’ve gotten positive feedback from parents on social media, and many are reaching out to know where they can buy us!
We have a few big, regional grocery chains that are adding our jars later this year, and we will be in over 30% of U.S.-store distribution by year-end.
We are already starting to plan our line extension, given all of the positive response.
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