We chat to Tobias Gunzenhauser, co-founder and CEO of yamo, a Swiss company that manufactures organic, natural, and fresh food for babies and kids
yamo launched in Switzerland at the end of 2017, in Germany and Austria in 2018, and more recently in Spain. The name is a combination of “yum yum” and the Italian word for “love”, amo.
It’s quite amusing, as the three founders are childless men (to date). However, we all love to cook and eat. One of my co-founders is a food scientist, the other is from a marketing background, and I’m from an economics background.
We stumbled upon this idea of baby food because we realized that the industry hadn’t changed over the last 50 years. Most products are still heat-sterilized, which means they’re cooked at very high temperatures and rendered shelf-stable for three to five years.
Jose, my food-scientist co-founder, knew of a technology that was way superior to this called HPP (High-Pressure Pasteurization). Commonly, this is referred to as cold-pressed.
We were the first company in Europe to use cold-pressure pasteurization for baby food, and we ended up with a product that was shelf-stable for a couple of months while still remaining as fresh as homemade every time. We brought the worlds of “safe and convenient” and “tasty and nutritionally beneficial” together.
We started with food for babies from four months of age, then expanded into food for toddlers with a range of healthy snacks. We’re now launching products for kids up to seven years old, including our Mango & Peach and Cacao & Banana flavored oat drinks.
Our flagship product is the squidgy Pouch, made from all-organic, cold-pressed fruit and vegetables. This is definitely our bestseller.
There are very strict regulations, especially when it comes to food for babies. We have to source our fruit and vegetables carefully and they must be certified “baby-grade”. So ultimately, the products we source are subject to the highest forms of quality control. We also test our products in a lab so we only sell those products that have been lab-approved. Of course, all our products are organic, too.
What’s important is that we use whole fruits and vegetables. Nothing is highly processed and the product remains as close to its natural form as it can be. We basically do what mums do at home, except on a much larger scale, and of course, we cold-press the ingredients.
We try to source as local as possible. Some ingredients (like mangos, for example) are of course not grown in Europe, in which case, we source from elsewhere. We always work with large farmer cooperatives that grow organically.
All our packaging is sustainable and can be recycled. We’re also looking into biodegradable packaging, which is up and coming in the food industry.
We started out by selling directly to consumers online, and we still do this with individual sales and subscriptions. However, from quite early on, big retailers have shown an interest in our products and we are now stocked in Carrefour, Coop stores, and many others.
In our sector, retail gives a lot of credit to a brand and people are often reassured if a product can be found on a retailer’s shelf.
So far there are no larger brands that do what we do in Europe. Compared to bigger brands like Nestlé, we’re more expensive by 30-50%. This sounds like a lot, but in money terms, it may only be 50 cents more per item.
Definitely. We’ve seen high organic growth on our D2C business and a lot more traffic without necessarily doing additional marketing. Retailers were hesitant to follow through with new ventures, however, so that was the flipside of the coin for us.
It’s important for us to grow our product and our portfolio – international expansion is also high up there. We think that yamo can be the leading European brand in the category of fresh and healthy children's food. There’s plenty of room for us to grow and we certainly have our work cut out for us!