Baby-Food Maker Little Spoon Raises $44 Million

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Little Spoon Inc., a direct-to-consumer baby-food company targeting millennial parents, raised $44 million in a venture-capital funding round.

The so-called Series-B financing round values the company at roughly $200 million, people familiar with the matter said. It was led by Valor Equity Partners.

Little Spoon ships organic purées, toddler meals and vitamins to customers, bypassing grocery stores and other distribution outlets. Last year, Little Spoon launched Plates, its meals for toddlers and bigger children. The company also offers a virtual community that provides caregivers with a platform to connect and interact.

“Packaged baby food hasn’t evolved in line with the modern parent,” Chief Executive

Ben Lewis

said in an interview. “It was this glaring void that we couldn’t ignore,” added Mr. Lewis, who co-founded Little Spoon in 2017 with

Lisa Barnett,

Michelle Muller

and

Angela Vranich.

Little Spoon is one of several upstart baby-food companies to jump aboard the organic trend, aiming to attract the growing demographic of millennial parents. Recent reports of high levels of toxic metals in several top baby-food brands opened the door for new competitors focused on safety.

Co-founders Lisa Barnett, Angela Vranich, Michelle Muller and Ben Lewis.



Photo:

Little Spoon Inc.

Little Spoon also emphasizes that it is a mission-driven company. During the Covid-19 pandemic, it has donated more than $100,000 of its products to food pantries and introduced a program to supply the products at cost to first responders and anyone who experienced pandemic-related financial hardship, according to the co-founders.

“It’s exactly the kind of company we like to invest in,” said

Jon Shulkin,

a board member and partner at Valor Equity Partners, which also invested in Little Spoon during its Series A financing round. “They’re solving a problem and doing good work.” He said he is optimistic about the company’s growth prospects because there are “always ways to scale” for makers of baby and children’s food.

Little Spoon said it is growing quickly, delivering seven million meals since the onset of the pandemic out of the 15 million delivered since the company’s founding. Large baby-food makers have had to adapt as some parents make their own and others embrace baby-led-weaning, in which infants are served pieces of real food rather than purées.

While overall food sales surged during pandemic-related shutdowns around the U.S., the baby-food segment didn’t receive the same boost, according to market-research firm IRI. Sales of baby food dropped in the spring of 2020, and though they have climbed since, growth has continued to lag behind the broader food segment.

Write to Corrie Driebusch at corrie.driebusch@wsj.com

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