Praised for the independence they give the child in allowing him or her to self-feed, they have also quickly become parent favorites, dramatically reducing food preparation/feeding time. While the mashed and puréed contents have largely remained the same since commercial baby food first made its debut, the new pouch system adopted by big-name brands, like Plum Organics, Gerber, Earth’s Best and others, provides a potent temptation for parents as the quickest and most convenient option currently available on the baby food market.
Much like with reusable baby food pouches, by using throwaway pouches, babies and toddlers can more or less feed themselves by sucking the food out of the nozzle and producing little to no mess. Beleaguered, busy parents can then simply toss the pouches away—no preparation, no cleanup. It’s no surprise, then, that sales of these ultra-convenient pouches have exploded in popularity. For example, Plum Organic reported their pouch sales alone reached a staggering $53 million in 2012, up from just $4,800 when they first introduced the pouches in 2008.* Other companies have reported similar results; Earth’s Best reported their pouch sales grew 372% in 2011, and that the popularity of the pouches is one of the major reasons that their organic baby food business grew 41% in 2012 (despite falling birth rates and otherwise flat baby food sales).*
As with most shifts towards a convenience culture, the problem is that valuable resources are sacrificed and an enormous amount of waste is generated to cut a few (time-saving) corners. The vast amount of packaging required to contain a mere 40-60 calories of puréed fruit and vegetables is almost ludicrous—as is the $1.40 to $2 price per pouch, nearly double the cost of baby food sold in a jar.* And, as the baby food market continues to move away from glass food storage to these squeezable plastic pouches, the demand for plastic has replaced that for glass, a more recyclable and sustainable material. Instead, these plastics are derived from petroleum, a nonrenewable resource that is extracted, processed and transported (using more petroleum), only to end up in a landfill after mere seconds of use.
A simple solution?
Busy parents concerned about their waste footprints should invest in a refillable, reusable baby food pouch, or browse our full collection of eco-friendly baby products and reusables for toddlers.
* Richtel, Matt. “Putting the Squeeze on a Family Ritual.” The New York Times. 20 June 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/garden/food-pouches-let-little-ones-serve-themselves.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3&hpw&>.
* Image: The New York Times.