Gerber Organic Green BeansWeb site:

Dominating the baby food business with a whopping 80% market share (that’s right, more than three out of every four baby food containers sold sport that familiar label), Gerber sure has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Back in 1907, Joseph Gerber (whose trade was canning) mashed up peas for his daughter, following the suggestion of a family doctor. Today Gerber sells over $2 billion in baby food a year.

Over the years, Gerber has tried to expand beyond jarred baby food. It launched microwavable toddler meals in 2002 and has licensed its name out for a variety of baby products, including cups, infant toys and even baby skincare items. Yet controversy has constantly dogged Gerber—in the 90’s, consumer pressure forced the company to stop adding sugar and starch to its baby foods. The Federal Trade Commission has accused the company of deceptive advertising when it claimed a survey showed that four out of five pediatricians recommended the brand (the actual number was 16%).

On the upside, Gerber offers parents two key advantages: choice and availability. The line boasts an amazing 200 different flavors. And Gerber is sold in just about every grocery store on Earth at around 28¢ per oz. (for non-organic foods). We have to give Gerber credit: bowing to consumer interest in all things organic, they rolled out “Gerber Organic” to compete with Earth’s Best. The new line is made with “whole grains and certified organic fruits and vegetables” and costs around 38¢ per oz. (note that Gerber’s regular line, Gerber Naturals, still uses some fruit and vegetable concentrates). Finally, we noticed that Gerber is now packing its first foods in plastic rather than glass and has added a line of pouches. While we like the changes Gerber has made, we still have problems with the brand: we think their “Graduates” line of “toddler” foods is a waste of money. And their juice line is overpriced compared to others on the market. Quality-wise, we will give Gerber an average rating. Rating: C