he school cafeteria that was once a trading post for Pop-Tarts and Lunchables now
sees children swapping organic gummies
for fancy cheese as lunch boxes continue to
become healthier and more gourmet.
It’s no secret that premium and better-for-you options
are on the rise, and children’s eating habits, as influenced
by their parents, are not exempt. As the back-to-school
season hits retail, grocers have a unique opportunity to
highlight these on-trend items for parents who are starting to worry about what they pack their children for lunch
This opportunity is especially great for retailers,
because organic and better-for-you products “typically
have a higher price point than conventional items,” says
Kimberly Pia, director of digital marketing for Stamford,
Conn.-based gluten-free candy manufacturer YumEarth.
So if retailers are able to provide discounts, “they will get
consumers who want to try something new but aren’t
ready for a full spend commitment,” she says.
“Additionally, the use of displays and shippers can help
provide product education, which can, in turn, help consumers understand the higher price point,” Pia says.
Tech for Tykes
Out-of-aisle displays are one of the best ways to get these
highly desired but lesser-known products into the spotlight, says Bryce Godfrey, director of marketing for Selah,
Wash.-based Tree Top, makers of on-the-go applesauce
pouches. Technology is also a great way to get premium,
lunch-friendly products on parents’ radars, he says.
To that end, Tree Top will offer mobile rebate offers
and retailer-specific digital coupons during the back-to-school season, and Fitchburg, Wis.-based specialty
cheese producer Emmi Roth has started collaborating
with retailers on social media ad programs to push items
for back to school.
“We’ve done things like unique bento box-themed videos with our cheeses on retailers’ social platforms in the
past,” says Heather Engwall, director of marketing for
Emmi Roth. The company will soon launch a large digital
marketing push for its snack cheese that will target shoppers at specific retailers that carry its products, she says.
Engwall says she also has seen retailers planning two-
for-one promotions in August to boost interest in its snack
cheese line during the back-to-school season and advises
cross-merchandising shelf-stable snacks such as apple-
sauce and small bags of popcorn next to snack cheese in
the deli to “suggest easy lunch box flavor combos.”
Moving back-to-school promotions to the digital stage
is crucial in this day and age as children’s tastes are being
influenced by factors such as social media. “Children
are exposed to new cuisines and cultures more than ever
before,” Engwall says. “This will open up some flavor
doors for children and may make them more willing to
try new things.”
of the (Lunch) Box
Move over, peanut butter and jelly: Parents are increasingly
sending their children off to school with premium and
better-for-you food options. By Rebekah Marcarelli
Frankly, it comes down to
educating the consumer on
what features a product has,
how it can be used and why
it’s good.” —Scott Baker,
5 Generation Bakers