Leadership Lessons From A Baby Food Disruptor
By: Susan Adams
Neil Grimmer is changing the way babies and toddlers eat. A former sculpture student and conceptual artist who worked at product design firm IDEO and then at healthy snack maker Clif Bar & Co., he started his company, Plum Inc., in 2007. Grimmer’s inspiration: his daughter Paxton’s resistance to the organic baked squash he and his wife Tana used to pack into Paxton’s lunch box. To make the food more kid-friendly, Grimmer pureed it and designed a container now ubiquitous among health-conscious families: a spouted pouch made out of malleable plastic and thin aluminum that a baby as young as eight months old can hold in her hand and suck.
Plum has grown quickly, disrupting the established baby food market that used to be dominated by pureed food in jars. Now, some 25% of babies get their food from spouted pouches. In 2012, sales at Emeryville, Calif.-based Plum hit $93 million and competitors have surfaced, using similar designs. Grown-ups are even starting to eat from pouches, especially the Greek yogurt/spinach/raspberry and spinach/pea/pear flavors, says Grimmer.
Earlier this year Forbes named Plum Organics No. 19 on its America’s Most Promising Companies list and in May, Campbell’s Soup bought Plum for an undisclosed sum. Grimmer, 42, is staying at the company, changing his title from CEO to President and Co-founder. He is running Plum as a standalone business.
Plum also recently became a B-Corp., or Benefit Corporation, which means that it pledges to benefit its workers, the community and the environment and to undergo a rigorous certification process.
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