Born in a farmers’ market, Calgary-based Baby Gourmet sold to international food group

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Part of the Dr. Oetker empire, the Hero Group is known for brands such as Beech-Nut and will now be teamed with Baby Gourmet’s cereals, baby food and kids’ snacks.

“This is a really good partnership, a good brand to be aligned with, we really fit into their mission,” said Carlson.

Sisters Jill Vos, left, and Jennifer Carlson. Photo by Supplied

The sisters have come a long way since they set out to test the waters with an upscale brand of what they were convinced was a tastier vision of infant food at the Calgary Farmers’ Market in January, 2006.

“That was really a marketing and research effort asking the question ‘what are parents looking for, what are they will to spend?” said Carlson.

Soon enough, the little company that began out of a home kitchen was selling $60,000 worth of product from their market booth, a sure sign they needed to go bigger.

That led to an expansion into an Ontario production facility and the first baby food use in North America of a spout pouch to deliver its flavours.

In 2010, Baby Gourmet’s wares were picked up by Walmart, which blazed a path to a host of other retailers and a wider North American distribution.

“My vision was every baby and every mom deserves this food,” said Carlson.

From the company’s infancy, Carlson said she had little doubt her fledgling vision would grow to where it has.

A British inspiration that helped launch Baby Gourmet was acquired by Hero Group 15 years ago “and I thought ‘that’s my dream situation, that’s what I  would want,’” she said.

Hero Group CEO Rob Versloot said he’s more than happy his company was able to make that dream reality.

“We are extremely pleased… Baby Gourmet fits our ‘conserving the goodness of nature’ mission perfectly,” said Versloot.

“The baby food market is our largest category, where we are keen on further increasing our footprint.”

Carlson said her company’s not typical of Alberta’s economic diversification scene.

“You don’t usually see too many consumer goods coming out of Alberta – it’s usually Ontario and B.C.,” she said.

on Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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