A growing number of parents are concerned about the industrially farmed and processed ingredients that are part of mainstream baby foods. Many have taken matters into their own hands, and have thoroughly researched and discovered the best ways to feed their children healthy, nutritious food.
One such father, Paul Lindley of the United Kingdom, took on the challenge and developed a line of healthy foods for babies and toddlers, under the brand Ella’s Kitchen, which is now enjoying an enthusiastic reception the world over.
“I was inspired to set up Ella’s Kitchen by Ella—my daughter!” Paul told Natural Vitality Kids. “After hearing that over 30 percent of the kids in Europe and the US are overweight, and some 15 percent are clinically obese, I was sure that we could find a fun way to encourage babies and young children to try a wide variety of healthy foods, and begin to reverse this terrible trend. Children inspire me, and engaging them in their food choices is at the heart of Ella’s Kitchen’s ethics.”
Paul was serious about his inspiration and took some substantial risks in getting his company up and running. “I ran Nickelodeon in the UK,” he said. “I took the brave (or foolish!) step of giving up my employment to try and live my dream and bring my idea to market. I spent two years developing the initial products and brand, and financed the launch by remortgaging our family home. I approached the major chains of stores in the UK with my idea and a unique way of how it could be advertised on national kids’ TV channels. One chain bought into the pitch and we got up and running in 2006.”
Ella’s Kitchen grew, and before long Paul knew he needed to break beyond the borders of the United Kingdom. “In 2009 we launched in Sweden and Norway—our first exploration to new territories—with local packaging and understanding of local culture,” Paul related. “We now have over 5 percent of their market’s share. Later in 2009 we launched in the US, after being directly approached by Babies R Us, and set up a separate US business to produce, deliver and market Ella’s Kitchen to American families. My view is that people are more the same around the world than they are different, and that by investing in understanding local cultural needs we can help US moms and dads in weaning their kids with healthy, convenient and fun foods.”
Today Ella’s Kitchen products can be found in numerous places in the US, including Whole Foods Market and many health food stores. They are as nutritious and fun a line of kids’ foods as you could find: Ella’s Taste Bud Explorers organic baby food is available in eight different flavors, including apples and bananas; carrots, apples and parsnips; and broccoli, pears and peas. Smoothie Fruits are 100 percent organic fruits, available in four different color combinations (and tasty mixes). Other Ella’s Kitchen products, currently obtainable only in the UK, will soon be able to be purchased in the US as well.
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“I passionately believe that Ella and her generation should have the opportunity to eat healthy food and discover that it can be both tasty and fun,” said Paul. “Just like grown-ups, babies and children eat with all of their senses—which means that it’s not just the texture and taste that is important. That’s why we’ve made sure our yummy 100 percent organic foods appeal to all their senses, by using bright, colorful, squeezy pouches that they recognize and love to grab and squish. We believe that this involvement and sensorial interaction with food is key to cultivating positive attitudes towards eating, which in turn creates healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.”
Paul’s research and development—with attention to what kids love—has paid off, and he consistently hears about it from parents. “The response has been fantastic,” he said. “We have many e-mails every day from lots of moms; we see daily conversations on blogs, Facebook, Twitter and in chat rooms between moms; and we meet real families at events all over the country. We also have refreshingly positive responses from the potential retail partners we approach.”
With the way it has gone at Ella’s Kitchen, there’s only expansion in their future. “We would love to ensure that all the foods we make and offer in the UK are available in the US to American families in the coming year or two,” Paul concluded. “We will continue to put kids at the heart of our business and listen to moms and dads about what they need that is not yet available in the market. We will continue to innovate and think differently, and keep on offering healthy, convenient and fun foods that are good in every sense.”
For more information, visit the very fun Ella’s Kitchen website at www.ellaskitchen.com.