John Foraker, the former CEO of Annie’s, has become the new chief executive of Berkeley-based organic baby food startup Once Upon a Farm. He joins actress and mom Jennifer Garner in expanding this initiative, in hopes that the products will be available nationwide in 2018.
“We want to become the next big nutrition brand for kids,” Foraker tells the blog Living Maxwell.
The company was founded by entrepreneurs Cassandra Curtis and Ari Raz in 2015 and currently offers a line of twelve cold-pressed organic baby food pouches and three varieties of applesauce. Unlike shelf-stable alternatives, the company's products are made using high-pressure processing which, the company maintains, contributes to a higher nutritional content and fresher flavors.
"I'm thrilled to be able to return to my entrepreneurial roots with co-founders Jennifer, Cassandra and Ari to grow Once Upon a Farm into an industry leader," Foraker, CEO, said in a press release. "We'll not only provide high quality foods that kids love but, perhaps even more importantly, we are committed to driving positive social change and food justice for the benefit of parents, kids and families."
Foraker has been dubbed co-founder and CEO, while Garner has been named co-founder and chief brand officer. Curtis currently holds the role of co-founder and chief innovation officer, and Raz is co-founder and company president.
Garner notes that she is “passionate about childhood nutrition” and, as a mom, she is excited about her role in the organic baby food company.
“I had been looking for a while to partner with an early-stage brand in the food space,” she tells Living Maxwell. “And as a mom with three kids, I have three lunch boxes to pack each day and understand the problems that must be solved with serving fresh food to young children. My mother made every single meal for me, and I have always been a big believer in staying connected to the earth, which grows our food.”
Foraker announced in August that he would be stepping down from his position at Annie’s, which he held for 17 years. He had remained on board as president for three years after the company’s 2014 acquisition by General Mills. When he first announced his departure, on his LinkedIn blog, he noted that “the integration of Annie’s [into General Mills] is 100 percent complete” and, as “an entrepreneur at heart” he was “never cut out to do the big corporate thing for the long term.”
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