What innovation is happening in the children’s category?

Food Spark rounds up some of the most recent notable launches, with trends like health, snacking and convenience clearly influencing the space.

8 May 2019
image credit: Getty Images

1. Marty’s

This is Danone’s first foray into an allergy-free brand for children, which the French food company is claiming is a UK first. The aim is to help allergy-affected youngsters feel included at treat time and has been in development since early summer 2018 through Danone’s Manifesto Innovation Accelerator programme.

Children were asked what they were missing out on due to allergies and the most common responses were crisps and ice cream.

Targeted at ages three and older, Marty’s first SKUs are expected to roll out from June 28 into Ocado and independent stores and include popped chickpea crisps in flavours like ready salted, cheese and onion, and barbecue – all of which contain no egg, peanut or gluten. They will retail for 75p per 20g.

Marty’s also has a sweet sorbet duo (mango and passionfruit, raspberry) that will sell for £3.99 per 300g. The desserts have the texture of ice cream and are free from dairy, gluten, eggs, peanuts and soya.

More products are planned for inclusion in lunchboxes.


2. Jack Link’s

Promising kids a protein kick, the Peperami & Cheese Snack Box is aimed at parent’s looking to feed their children something on the go.

Almost half of families believe their children need more protein, according to the brand, with the new product delivering 24.5g of protein per 100g. Available in chilled in a split pack, the package is filled with mini pork salami sausages on one side and cubes of mild cheddar cheese on the other (£1.50/50g).

Peperami said its new product is a response to “demands from parents, delivering a snack box which is a great source of calcium as well as a protein kick, providing a great alternative to sugar-laden snacks.”


3. Nice by Nature

Unilever teamed up with Tesco for its healthy ice lolly brand for children.

With just five months of development, the range rolled out into Tesco freezers nationwide in March and was the first of its kind in the ice lolly category, according to Unilever. The range is made solely with fruit, with options of either strawberry and raspberry, mango and banana, or apple and blackcurrant (£3/6x40ml). Each portion delivers one of a child’s five a day and just 23 calories.

Nice by Nature is a “game-changer” for its category, said Noel Clarke, Unilever vice president for refreshments. “We saw there was a clear opportunity to do something completely different and disrupt the ice lolly category by appealing to parents who simply want to get more fruit into their kids, as well as those actively looking for healthier treats for their kids,” he added

Following in the footsteps of Nice by Nature is Jude’s, which also released a range of lollies aimed at boosting youngsters’ consumption of fruit and veg, exclusively launching them into Sainsbury’s this month.


4. Fruit Bowl

This UK-based children’s snack company has ridden the unicorn craze with the latest addition to its range. In April it released Unicorn Fruit Flakes, a mixture of Fruit Bowl’s top selling flavours: raspberry, strawberry and blackcurrant.

Made from soft, chewy pieces of real fruit purées, the SKU launched into Morrisons in April in a multipack format for £2 and is also heading into Waitrose this month. The range is gluten-free and vegan-friendly, with only naturally occurring sugars. Each pack contains the same amount of sugar found in a single apple.

A Fruit Bowl survey showed that only 9% of children are currently reaching the recommended five-a-day intake, while a Mintel survey found that 50% of parents who buy snacks for children said it was hard to get children to eat healthier snacks.


5. Real Handful

In January, this snack start-up rolled out a range for children, called Bundlz. It released two products made with oats, cereals and raisins covered with fruit yoghurt in either strawberry & raspberry or apple & blackberry. They contain 87 calories per 20g pack.

Launched into Sainsbury’s and Ocado, the brand took two years of development, said Real Handful co-founder Carly Taylor, and contained “40% less sugar compared with other kid’s yoghurt snacks on the market”.

“We noticed a real gap in the market for fruit and yoghurt-based snacks that are not only fun and delicious but also use real fruit rather than fruit pulp, and less yoghurt,” Taylor added.


6. Kabuto Kids

A year in development, instant noodle brand Kabuto unveiled its first line-up for children, which became available this year in Sainsbury’s.

Designed to be a convenient light meal for kids, aged five to 12, the two Asian-inspired pot variants consist of Hello Chicken and Lucky Vegetable. Created with younger palates in mind, the pots are less spicy than the brand’s standard lines, with shorter egg noodles for easier handling.

The 60g pot (£1.75) has a cardboard sleeve featuring puzzles, facts and jokes on the reverse, while salt and sugar per 100g are around 0.4g and 4g respectively.


7. Ella’s Kitchen

This baby food brand launched Big Kids into the frozen section of Tesco, with 14 products encompassing categories like oven-cooked meals and defrost and serve snacks for children aged eight and up.

There were also stir in cubes for weaning infants like Sweet Potato, Squash, Carrots & Parsnips to deliver a veggie boost.

Taking 18 months to develop, the range includes Chicken & Veggie Nuggets; Cheesy Croquettes blended with cauliflower; Meaty Meatballs with five types of veg; and Strawberry & Banana Muffins (£2.50-£3.50).


8. Yoplait

Hitting Asda and Morrisons in March were a new range of drinkable yoghurts from General Mill’s Petits Filous brand, which were made with a sports cap for a mess-free experience.

The brand claims the new range, which comes in a strawberry and vanilla flavour (£2/4x100ml), represented the first time a sports cap had been used on children’s yoghurt in the UK, and opened up new usage occasions for the category.

The bottles can last up to eight hours outside of the fridge, according to Yoplait’s senior brand manager Elisa Costa.

“Sometimes transporting yoghurt pots while on the go isn’t practical,” she said. “The new portable format means children can enjoy the great taste and all the goodness of Petits Filous wherever they are.”


9. The Collective

Another targeting the dairy category, it released a range called Super Yoghurt’s containing kefir yoghurt with vitamin D, aiming to bring gut health to kids.

It represented the first fermented dairy product in the UK developed especially for children, said Collective co-founder Amelia Harvey. Sold in Sainsbury’s and Ocado in four-packs of 85g pots (£2), it is available in strawberry and peach or mango flavour and contain no added sugar.

“Being a mother myself, I have seen the benefits first-hand of giving my child kefir and his improvement in immunity and general well-being,” Harvey added.


10. Brands potentially to come

Quaker Oats appears to be creating a children’s range of breakfast goods, registering artwork with the Intellectual Property Office, with products that are likely to have an on-the-go aspect. The Mix & Match name it registered, suggests Quaker is looking to tap demand for customisable breakfasts.

The backers of chickpea puffs Hippeas have created a brand for children called Mavericks, with products like fruit-based snacks, cookies, protein balls and healthy crisps expected.

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