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    BACK TO SCHOOL: Annie’s Gears Up to Make the Grade

    Although the last thing on most kids minds in June is school, savvy manufacturers such as Annie’s Homegrown are taking full advantage of

    Although the last thing on most kids minds in June is school, savvy manufacturers such as Annie’s Homegrown are taking full advantage of the summer selling season to embark on A-plus back-to-school strategies. For the Napa, Calif.-based Annie’s, this means the rollout of smaller packs of its natural and organic kid-friendly snacks, along with a lunch sack promotion that should encourage more parents than ever to think green when packing midday meals for their little scholars.

    According to the company’s marketing director Aimee Sands, organic and natural foods have become a popular choice for consumers, particularly those with young children. “It is an exciting time to be in the organic and natural industry,” she notes. “There’s a groundswell of interest [in] food quality, ingredients and the environmental impact of food, inspired in part by the White House garden, Jamie Oliver’s ‘Food Revolution’ TV show, and movies such as ‘Food, Inc.’ Demand for natural and organic items continues to be strong, especially for kid-focused foods. Parents choose organic and natural options for their children’s lunch boxes and school snacks because they’re looking for products that are free of artificial color and flavors and preservatives. Many feel organic and natural is a healthier choice for their children.”

    In response to such demand, “Annie’s Homegrown continues to expand our product selection, and to tailor our offerings [to] meet our consumers’ needs for convenient, delicious, lunch-box-friendly snacks,” adds Sands. “Our line now includes 1-ounce packs of Bunny Grahams and Cheddar Bunnies, and 0.8-ounce pouches of Organic Fruit Snacks — one of our most successful new products ever.”

    Along with the new portable snack offerings, which are perfect for away-from-home munching, the company plans to provide a more sustainable way for kids to tote their school lunches. “This fall, we’re offering a free reusable lunch sack promotion that offers great value to consumers, and will drive sales of all Annie’s products,” says Sands. “With the purchase any two Annie’s Homegrown products, Annie’s fans can receive a free Kids Konserve reusable waste-free lunch sack from Annie’s. This high-value offer is sure to excite back-to-school shoppers and help the environment, too. Consumers will visit Annies.com and enter proof-of-purchase details in order to receive their free Kids Konserve Lunch Sack.”

    Continues Sands: “Annie’s boxes will be specially marked with stickers to announce the giveaway and help packages pop off the shelf during the key promotion period. In-store displays, such as shippers and display-ready cases, are also available.” The back-to-school program is available to all of the manufacturer’s retail partners.

    Going forward, the back-to-school occasion is poised to become a bigger opportunity for food makers and retailers alike, says Sands. “Parents are becoming even more aware of the importance of healthy lunches, and they are eager to find new organic and natural products to meet this need.” In addition, retailers can play a key role in helping parents fill lunch bags by offering samples of natural and organic foods, she notes, “by offering signage that highlights great lunchtime options, or even hosting tours of the store where a nutritionist helps point out lunch bag favorites.”

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