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Parents help raise healthy snack market with purchases for kids

BY Barbara White-Sax

Consumers may be saying one thing and doing another when it comes to choosing healthy snacks for themselves, but they often are vigilant when it comes to what they serve their kids.

Parents know they have the greatest control over what their younger children eat—once they hit elementary school, kids have more opportunity to make their own selections.

“Parents are willing to spend a bit more for healthier products while they can still have influence, and they are laying the groundwork for their children’s palate and nutritional habits,” said Melissa Abbott, trends and culinary insights manager with The Hartman Group. Abbott said processed foods aren’t as attractive to parents as fruits and vegetables.

Favorite healthy snacks among kids ages 6 to 11 years

*Kids picked first, second and third favoritesSource: Mintel International
SNACK %OF KIDS*
Fresh fruit 63%
Fruit snacks (e.g., roll-ups, strips) 52
Yogurt or yogurt drinks 48
String cheese or sliced cheese 46
Nutritional snacks (e.g., cereal, granola bars) 42
Raw vegetables 28
Nuts 25
Snack mixes (e.g., nut and raisin mix) 25
Dried fruit 19

Research from Mintel International showed that fresh fruit remains the most commonly eaten healthy snack among children ages 6 to 11 years. Fruit snacks, yogurt and cheese are each eaten by about half of the children in this age group, according to Mintel’s research.

That doesn’t mean parents don’t serve processed snacks to children—even toddlers. “Parents are looking for healthy products, but they also want easy solutions. And there’s not too much out there. It’s a huge opportunity for manufacturers,” Abbott said.

Minimally processed packaged snacks that also are natural or organic are more likely to win parental approval, Abbott said.

“Consumers of our baby products were finding organic options thinned out as their little one graduated into finger foods and snacks. We wanted to bring something new to the space,” said Katie Sobel, marketing manager at The Nest Collective, which markets Plum Organics Tots portable, organic Fruity Fingerfuls dried fruit and grain bites, and Berry Fiddlesticks fruit and grain snack sticks. The snacks, which retail for around $3.39, are targeted to 1- to 3-year-olds.

The company is not alone. The toddler snack segment has been seeing some action with healthy products packaged in convenient containers. Gerber Graduates Puffs, snacks made from puffed grains, real veggies and real fruit, and Graduates Yogurt Melts, made from real yogurt and fruit, brought healthy choices in resealable canisters and pouches to the mass market, but they no longer are the only players in the space.

“Convenience is a huge thing in this segment,” said Zak Normandin, founder of Peterborough, N.H.-based Little Duck Organics. The brand recently launched three varieties of freeze-dried fruit in resealable pouches. “There are times when fresh food just isn’t an option, so this is the next best thing,” Normandin said. “Moms can throw it in a diaper bag or take them on the go.”

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Dove gears up for football season

BY Allison Cerra

HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. Mars Chocolate North America is hosting a Dove chocolate football party in New York’s Times Square on Monday to kick off the 2010 NFL season.

The event will showcase new ways for fans and non-fans alike to enjoy the football season by inviting women to make his football time her "me time" with silky smooth Dove chocolate. The event will be co-hosted by Holly Robinson Peete, actress, philanthropist and wife of former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete.

"Dove chocolate is the perfect everyday pleasure any time you need to unwind, celebrate or just enjoy the moment," said Debra Sandler, chief consumer officer at Mars Chocolate North America. "As a proud official sponsor of the NFL, we want to show the estimated 90 million women who will participate in football season that Dove chocolate is one of the sweetest ways to celebrate the perfect play or just enjoy the day."

In related news, the chocolate brand also has launched advertisements showing women enjoying "me time" with Dove.

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Lunchables continues food evolution with new varieties

BY Allison Cerra

MADISON, Wis. Lunchables is getting more wholesome with new varieties that aim to keep kids healthy.

The line expansion includes the introduction of two new varieties: chicken strips made with 100% white meat chicken, and chicken and American sub sandwich, which features rotisserie seasoned chicken and bread made with 8 g of whole grain. Both products are good sources of protein and calcium and join the Lunchables-with-water roster introduced last year that offers quality meats, cheeses and spring water, the company said.

 

To continue to offer parents a full range of products that meet all of their needs, over the last 10 years, the Lunchables lunch combinations line has been extensively revamped. This evolution has resulted in a 24% reduction in sodium, a 22% reduction in fat and a 21% decrease in calories across the portfolio.

 

 

"We’re always looking for ways to make our products better," said Darin Dugan, senior director of marketing at Lunchables. "As a result, we constantly evaluate the nutritional profile of our food and have worked hard to improve it by adding whole grains, spring water and fruit options. We’ve also removed ingredients like high fructose corn syrup from our crackers."

 

 

The complete line of Lunchables lunch combinations with water, which are available in the refrigerated section of grocery stores, retail for $3.49.

 

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