Millennial and Gen Z parents are leading the charge for baby and toddler food that is more nutritious, ethically sourced and sustainably produced.
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That’s what married co-founders, Joe Carr and Serenity Heegel Carr, wanted for their daughter, Della. They founded Serenity Kids in 2016 to offer low-sugar, healthy baby food, and recently closed on a $7 million Series A round to further expand its products.
“We were starting our own family at the time, and food is very important to the both of us,” President Joe Carr told Crunchbase News. “We had both healed our personal health issues by cleaning up our diet, and when we went looking for food for our baby, we didn’t like what was out there.”
It took about two years for the Carrs to launch their first products, which ironically fell on the day Della was born in August 2018. Austin-based Serenity Kids now offers 12 pouch purees including Ethically Sourced Meats, Organic Savory Veggies and Toddler Purees with Bone Broth. In February, the company launched a new line of Grain Free Puffs toddler snacks in three varieties.
‘Brand to watch’
CircleUp Growth Partners led the Series A round and was joined by Wild Ventures and existing investors, such as Nick Green, Gunnar Lovelace, Melissa Urban, Katie Wells and Ben Greenfield. It also includes new investors, such as Jason Wachob and Colleen Wachob, Joe DeSena and Max Lugavere.
The new round comes six months after the Austin-based company announced a $3 million seed round backed by a group of investors, including Wild Ventures, to give Serenity Kids a total investment of $14 million, according to Joe Carr.
Karen Howland, managing director at CircleUp, said the investment platform uses its proprietary data platform, Helio, to find, diligence and partner with brands that have been flagged as leaders and innovators in their industries.
“Serenity Kids was identified by Helio as the No. 1 brand to watch in the baby food category so we had to connect,” Howland said in an interview. “I met with Joe, Serenity and the team over a year ago, and each time we met, their story got more and more compelling. They are going after the market in a different way — they see consumer dietary trends overall with lower sugar, natural ingredients and high proteins — and are doing that with baby food and authority on the topic.”
The global market for baby food and dairy proteins, excluding infant formula, is expected to be valued at $25.6 billion by 2024, according to 3A Business Consulting.
The premium baby food space is also growing in competition. The Carrs claim their company to be the fastest-growing baby food brand by velocity, second to Happy Family in terms of overall sales at Whole Foods Market, as well as in the natural retail channel, which was valued at $166 billion in 2019, according to the Natural Foods Merchandiser Market Overview.
Other companies are attracting funding as well: In 2020, New York-based infant nutrition company ByHeart raised a $70 million Series A round of funding, and San Francisco-based subscription baby meal delivery company Square Foods, also known as Square Baby, told Crunchbase News last year that it was going after a seed round.
Today, Serenity Kids products are available online via Amazon and Thrive Market, and in approximately six months went from 1,000 stores to more than 4,000 grocery stores nationwide. Its products average in price from $2 to $4.
The company’s revenue is also accelerating, growing by more than 200 percent in 2020 over 2019, and the Carrs expect growth of 150 percent in 2021.
“The growth has been quite amazing,” Joe Carr added. “In our first year, which was 2019, we thought we would have $2 million in revenue, but we did $3 million. In 2020, we were projecting $8 million and did $9 million. This year, we are projecting $22 million in revenue.”
The Series A funding will be invested into expanding its retail footprint, hiring in sales and marketing and product innovation, particularly around a recall of rice-based baby products following a U.S. House of Representatives committee report that found these products contained traces of arsenic and other heavy metals.
One of the biggest challenges in the baby food space is education, Serenity Carr said in an interview.
The company aims to build out its educational content offering, where it answers common questions, such as when a baby can eat meat.
“We want to share information because a big part of this comes down to moms,” she added. “Studies show that millennial moms are distrustful of big companies. I also think there will be more on nutrition on the horizon. Our message is resonating, people are starting to copy us and are here to revolutionize the baby industry.”
Feature photo of Joe, Della and Serenity Carr, and inset photo courtesy of Serenity Kids.
Blogroll illustration: Dom Guzman
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