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Nestlé's Gerber to test fresh baby food in Walmart stores

Walmart Inc. and Nestlé SA-owned baby food manufacturer Gerber Products Co. have teamed up to test Gerber's new fresh baby and toddler food brand, The Dallas Morning News reported Oct. 15, citing Walmart and Gerber executives.

Gerber will run a pilot of the new brand called Freshful Start in 50 Walmart stores beginning the week of Oct. 15, the report said. The stores are in Texas, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri.

Freshful Start will launch with purees, bowls and entrees, priced from $3.98 to $5.98 for two ready-to-heat servings each, the report added.

Gerber CEO Bill Partyka told the newspaper that the company developed the line to compete with startups and trends that appeal to new parents who value convenience.

"We're trying to provide an alternative to making homemade baby food. Having to peel, chop, puree and store baby food is not always practical in today's world," Partyka reportedly said. "We need to prove the concept with a major retailer," the CEO added.

Walmart has installed refrigerated cases in its baby food aisles for the new brand, Diana Marshall, vice president of baby merchandising for Walmart U.S., told the publication. The stores included in the food test are those already using the U.S. retail giant's new online grocery pickup service, Marshall reportedly said.

Fresh baby food in tubes from food companies such as Campbell Soup Co.-owned Plum PBC and Beechwood Capital and CAVU Venture Partners-backed Once Upon a Farm LLC are becoming more common in grocery dairy cases than baby food in jars on the shelf, The Dallas Morning News added.