PORTLAND — Gerber baby, eat your strained-carrot heart out. The latest health food wave has reached the youngest Oregon consumers with the introduction of Nice Cubes, a new brand of frozen organic baby food, the first of its kind developed locally.
Nice Cubes is part of the booming nationwide organic baby food market. According to marketing research firm A.C. Nielsen Co., this segment of the organic food market grew 18% between 2004 and 2005, bringing in $100 million in 2005.
“Our approach is to create a product that’s as fresh as homemade,” says company founder and Portland mom Katie McNamara, who began work on her product a year ago after winning the American Food Fight competition put on by Oregon State University’s Food Innovation Center. Each four-ounce Nice Cubes serving, packaged in a square tray, contain grains, fruits and vegetables grown locally. Trays are stacked three high to form cubes and are sold at New Seasons and Whole Foods as well as at the Food Front market co-op.
Besides introducing tots to such flavors as “bandango” and “gentle lentils,” Nice Cubes purees are jam-packed with vitamins, according to McNamara. She explains that since the cubes are frozen, they lack the added preservatives necessary for shelf food.
“We’re supplying moms with the fresh food they want for their babies,” she says. At $4.95 a box, Nice Cubes is aimed at the moms who can afford to be discriminating.
But to McNamara, the growing legions of the stroller set in that demographic are enough to build a business on. Now she just hopes those babies will give Nice Cubes two spoons up.
— Colleen Moran
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