It’s back-to-school time and for parents that raises daily questions about what to put in the lunchbox and offer as after-school snacks. Companies including Bolthouse Farms, Stonyfield Farms and Chobani are feeding kids’ snacking trends with products designed to appeal to children’s tastes and also appease parents’ worries about nutrition and weight.
Data reported in the journal Health Affairs showed that by 2006, kids’ snacking trended towards three times a day, getting about 27 percent of their total daily calories from snack foods. At the time, the bulk of their snacks consisted of sugary sweets, chips and other salty treats.
The trend toward more childhood snacking mirrors changes in the way millennials and older consumers are eating today. Adults are increasingly opting for snacks between, and often instead of, meals. And, as they snack more, they’re making more nutritious choices. Last year, fruits and vegetables ranked second and third respectively on NPD Group’s list of foods Americans eat most.
Yogurt, nutrition bars and fresh fruit are increasingly becoming the snacks of choice for U.S. consumers, and the category is expected to continue growing even as sales of ready-to-eat sugary snacks and desserts are set to flatten, according to NPD Group.
In an interview earlier this year, NPD analyst Darren Seifer identified the three C’s that go into adult consumers’ snack decisions — cost, craving and convenience.
“It’s kind of like three overlapping circles, and at the center is the one that’s saving me money and time and tastes very good,” Seifer said.
Now, health and nutrition also play a growing role in those decisions. But for most kids, the deciding factor is still whether it tastes good.
Bolthouse Farms, which four years ago spearheaded a $25 million campaign to convince kids that baby carrots are cool, has spiced up the category further. Kids preferences for salty snack foods led to the recent creation of Veggie Snackers, bags of baby carrots with seasoning pouches in Chili Lime and Ranch. Kids shake the seasonings up with the bag of veggies to create a nutritious snack that gives them more of a sense of eating flavored chips, CEO Jeff Dunn told NPR last week.
Bolthouse has also rolled out new Kids Smoothies and Kids Fruit Tubes, 40-calorie non-dairy squeezable fruit snacks with no added sugar or preservatives that can be chilled, frozen and packed in the lunch box.
Kid-oriented snacks from other brands also combine the preferences of parents and children, such as the Kids line from Chobani, a squeezable, freezable, low-calorie snack of the Greek yogurt that’s spurred a resurgence in yogurt eating among U.S. adults.
Stonyfield Farms has teamed with organic brand Happy Family to create an entire line of organic yogurt snacks designed for children, toddlers and babies. The YoBaby, YoTot and YoKids Squeeze yogurt pouches were each formulated to cater to children at specific stages of development.
Smaller specialty companies are also creating healthier snacks, with some such as Plum Organics specializing in creating nutritious foods for babies, toddlers and children. Others aren’t necessarily creating products specifically aimed at children, but media outlets aimed at parents are giving more press to products such as dried fruits from Peeled Snacks andRainforest Veggie Snacks from Samai.
Is your company making healthier snacks aimed squarely at kids? Tell us about it in the comments.
Janet Forgrieve is a freelance writer and SmartBrief contributor who writes for restaurant and retail briefs.