Since the launch of pre-sales in late May 2021, the company has sold one pallet of stock, approximatively 660 units of its plant-based infant and toddler formulas in the first seven days.
So far, about 10% of orders come from international customers from 19 countries including the UK, Europe, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong.
The rice-based formulas will launch in Australia this July, in independent grocers, health food stores and pharmacies.
Sprout Organic was founded in 2020 by Selasi Berdie, initially selling plant-based snack bars and mini muffins for children.
“Right now, we’re consuming resources at a far greater rate than can be restored. Plant-based nutrition offers a dramatically lower carbon, water, and ecological footprint, making it the best choice to ensure a sustainable future for our kids,” he said.
Berdie had also spent five years working on the plant-based formula.
“As a parent, I was shocked when I couldn’t find a soy-free plant-based formula for my own kids. With more than 15% of the population moving towards a plant-based diet and even more kids suffering from common nutritional allergies to dairy, soy, nuts and gluten the unmet demand is at an all-time high.”
Although plant-based formulas exist overseas, there are very few that are intolerance-friendly. Nestle’s Gerber brand has soy-based infant and toddler formulas, while Israel-based Else Nutrition plant-based formula is made from buckwheat, tapioca and almonds.
“There are several soy-based offerings which exist in the market, however soy is also a common allergen and not recommended for infants under six months of age,” according to Berdie.
Sprout Organic uses rice starch as the base ingredient for its formulas which is safe for infants to consume from birth. “While the use of rice starch is uncommon in the southern hemisphere, it is very common in Europe and has represented a significant portion of its infant formula market for decades.”
In addition to rice starch, the formulas also contain organic rice protein, pea protein, DHA from algae, oil blend (coconut, canola), minerals and vitamins. The toddler formula (12 months and above) also contains probiotics (bacillus coagulans).
Sprout Organic is Australia’s first plant-based and certified organic infant and toddler formula.
On why it has taken this long for companies to innovate in this space, Berdie thinks: “This may have something to do with Australia and New Zealand's long and rich history in the dairy industry. Dairy milk is ingrained within the culture and therefore infant formula has mainly been thought of in this same manner.”
Sprout Organic’s infant and toddler formulas have met the safety requirements under the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).
FSANZ is the statutory authority in the Australian Government Health portfolio responsible for developing food standards for Australia and New Zealand.
“We have successfully worked with some of the best people both in the food-tech space and regulatory bodies to produce a product that is not only nutritionally great for infants but also meets the highest food safety requirements in the world for infant formula under FSANZ,” Berdie told NutraIngredients-Asia.
The company sources as much as possible from local Australian farmers and suppliers, however some ingredients are sourced globally.
“Being an organic certified product means certain ingredients cannot be sourced organically in Australia. There isn’t an organic rice option within Australia, so we source from Middle East.”
The formulas are manufactured in Melbourne, while the snacks products on the Gold Coast.
Sprout Organic uses both an online and offline marketing strategy.
“Being a modern and innovative product, we have a focus on using digital mediums to provide education and build our Sprout community,
We also feel like there is nothing like physically touching the product and since we have very few COVID-19 restrictions in Australia, we have a very heavy event schedule with over 10 trade shows in six months, we will be promoting our brand to both retailers and directly to consumers.”
“We definitely plan on being in retail stores overseas and have always been a big fan of Wholefoods both in the U.S and U.K. We are open to working with any retailers that believe in promoting a healthier future.”
Sprout Organic has a packed product development pipeline over the next 12 months which includes a neutral toddler formula, junior plant protein, organic rice cereals and a range of superfoods for kids.
“We are excited to keep delivering a range of innovative products to health-conscious families,” Berdie added.