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How one little girl inspired a baby food empire

Posted: 1 June 2011
by Kelly Beswick

Ella’s Kitchen

Paul Lindley, Founder

Well done on being short-listed, why do you think Ella's Kitchen stood out from the competition?
We pioneered the idea of using flexible pouches for baby food and were also the first to create new recipes by mixing organic fruits and vegetables together in unusual flavour combinations. However I think our strong, fun, bright and informal branding which connects with babies across all their senses is the thing that makes us stand out.

The Ella's Kitchen brand is now very well established. What do you consider to be the secret of its success? 
We have always concentrated on really understanding the needs of the families that use our foods, and then used that understanding to create innovative new products. Our brand is so different because it builds on the real life experiences that I had in using fun to help wean Ella – which lots of other families can relate to – in short, it puts kids first.

If you had to sum up the Ella's Kitchen philosophy in one sentence, what would it be?
Just like adults, babies and young children eat with all their senses so, by creating organic, handy and fun foods and healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime, Ella’s Kitchen is good in every sense.

Why do you think parents trust your brand?
Parents trust Ella’s Kitchen because we are real people with a real story, creating innovative recipes that only ever use store cupboard ingredients and communicating with honesty and openness solving real challenges for real families.  That trust means that every second of every day someone, somewhere, enjoys one of our foods!

Do you have any advice for parents of fussy eaters?
Try and take the stress out of the whole process by introducing the idea that food can be fun.  Introduce a new food, but don’t necessarily ask your little one to eat it first or second time, rather play with or around it.  Once they have seen, played, smelt, touched and made noises with it, they will be more likely to try it and enjoy it.  Encouraging children to help prepare their meal, in however small a way, also really empowers them and makes them more likely to try something new.

Do you have children yourself?
I have Ella (obviously!) now aged 11 and Paddy aged eight.

How did you find weaning your children?
Both kids were so different!  Ella took time to try new things and I persevered with games, silliness, fun, mess and giggles to de-stress both her and I.

What is their favourite food?
Carrot sticks, pancakes and chicken korma – but not all at the same time!

What was your favourite food as a child?
My perfect meal, aged five, would have been spaghetti bolognaise, cherries and milk.

Do you think that the food we give our babies and children is better now than say a generation ago?
People are much more aware of the benefits of a healthy, balanced diet now, and the foods available are much more varied and interesting.  There are, however, also more highly processed, more additive laden, high salt, fat and sugar foods available and the facts about increases in poor health and obesity in childhood don’t lie.

How do you think it compares with the rest of Europe?
The statistics that over 30% of our kids are overweight and over 15% are clinically obese are similar across most of Europe.  The UK however does lead the way in premium baby foods that are less processed, non-additive based and organic.

If you could introduce one thing to better our children's diets in the UK, what would it be?
I would encourage the UK Government to consider a ‘WIC (Women, Infants and Children) scheme’ similar to one successfully established in the US, where low income families qualify for a programme that offers financial assistance in purchasing food, counselling and information on healthy eating, breastfeeding support and information and referrals to health care and other community resources. It really helps both in educating new mothers as to the value of good nutrition and in giving them a real opportunity to purchase the best foods.

What next for Ella's Kitchen?
We have a vision to be the world’s first global premium brand of food for young children.  We have a successful and growing business in Europe and the US and, as long as we continue to listen to real families, produce new healthy, handy and fun foods for kids and innovate for modern lifestyles, we will grow and grow the Ella’s brand so that we close in on providing one billion portions of fruit and vegetables for babies and children around the world.

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