16 September 2016
By The Tetra Pak Editorial Team 
Today’s parents are trying to pack healthy lunches for their kids – but it’s a taller order than one might expect.
 
Forty-two percent of households with children agree there are not enough conveniently packaged healthy snacks, such as individual portions or resealable packages (Mintel). It’s hardly surprising then that only 27 percent of packed lunches met at least three of the five National School Lunch Program standards. That’s one in four lunches barely making the grade.
 
This represents a big opportunity for food and beverage companies to tap into an underserved market of healthy, packaged foods that kids will gladly eat.
 
Helping parents pack a balanced meal can boost sales

A balanced diet includes roughly 50 percent fruit and vegetables, 25 percent protein, 25 percent whole grains and one to two servings of dairy per day, according to nutrition experts at Harvard University. With this in mind, it becomes clear a turkey sandwich on wheat bread with a slice of tomato isn’t quite as balanced as parents may assume. Brands can help lunch packers hit the 50 percent fruits and vegetables mark by offering more packaged options that make the grade.
 
One company rising to the challenge is Sneakz Organic, which literally sneaks in a half serving of fruit and vegetables in its flavored milkshakes. Carrot, cauliflower, sweet potato, spinach and beets are included in its Strawberry Milkshake product.
 
The lunch box isn’t the only location brands may want to consider – after all, snack times for kids are plentiful, as most parents know. Packaged foods that successfully communicate health benefits score an A in parents’ book. According to a recent Shopping for Health 2016 report from the Food Marketing Institute and Rodale, a product’s healthfulness for children influences 91 percent of parents’ food and beverage purchases.
 
Companies can also target after school activities like soccer or piano lessons by positioning themselves as ideal for nourishment after a physical or mental workout. Flavored milk, for example, has a leg up with parents of young athletes with its ideal 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein for muscle recovery, a health benefit outlined in the Washington Post. Packaged foods containing peanut butter, eggs, whole grains, oats and other “intellectually stimulating” ingredients could also find a happy home in kids’ hands after music lessons or band practice.
 
Although parents do the buying, kids do the shopping

According to our research with nearly 500 shoppers, almost 80 percent of all grocery store purchases are influenced by kids’ requests. So what appeals to “the money” from a nutritional perspective has to make it into the cart in the first place through visual appeal. 
 
Apple & Eve pioneered this approach back in 1999 when it partnered with Sesame Street to teach kids about nutrition. Big Bird, Elmo and other familiar faces greeted kids on their juice boxes, becoming “the beverage of choice among the preschool set,” according to The New York Times.
 
The brand went on to capture the grade school crowd with bright graphics helping its products stand out on the shelf. Apple & Eve’s success with packaging solutions suggests that bold colors, characters and games printed on labels catch kids’ eyes in the grocery store, while nutritional information hooks their parents. 
 
For companies that strike a balance between appealing to kids and their parents when it comes to healthy packaged foods, the potential upside is great as school is now back in session. For more information on Millennial parents’ buying habits, read this blog post.
 
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