Just when I thought it was virtually impossible that any new categories could emerge to dazzle our senses and force us to open our wallets, healthier choices for kids are all the rage. At least this was the retail-focused trend I saw the most of recently at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, Calif.
Whether you want better-for-you, gluten-free, organic, hidden vegetables (ala Jessica Seinfeld) or portion control, the possibilities are endless.
Many new players have appeared on the scene over the past couple of years with products ranging from snacks, juices, breakfast choices and complete meals. Companies like Happy Baby has morphed into Happy Family to offer healthy choices to their growing customers. Individual applesauce-based squeeze “bottles” with built-in straws were a favorite at Buddy Fruits, Go Go Squeeze and Revolution Foods/Plum Tots; these products have been very popular in Europe for at least a decade which just goes to show that more U.S. buyers need to make the trek to European shows like PLMA Amsterdam, SIAL Paris and Anuga Cologne.
Transitional items in chic, yet functional, packaging like First Juice with its “sport cap” bottles for toddlers and preschoolers, or Lifeway with its kid-friendly probiotics offer me-too products marketed to the younger subset.
An interesting new player on the scene, Pitter Patties, offers all sorts of patties with hidden vegetables. Word on the street has it that Kidfresh, the NYC-based company of healthy foods for kids, will be launching several new offerings later this year to the masses, so stay tuned for more thrilling opportunities to keep our kids eating more healthfully.
Back at the hotel, feet up, I saw ads on the television indicating that national brands are jumping on the bandwagon — Chef Boyardee touts vegetables in every serving and Gerber Graduates offers meals for preschoolers. Could this be the next trend in private label offerings as well? Somewhat new, possibly-improved, private-label food for kids coming soon to a supermarket near you!