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Along with the usual shelf-stable fare that makes it into kids' lunchboxes as they head back to school, kid-friendly frozen foods have an opportunity to make a big impression on parents hunting for appropriate items for lunch and other times of the day.
"With the start of school, evenings begin to become busier as well," points out Heather Stouffer, CEO of Alexandria, Va.-based Mom Made Foods LLC, which provides a range of nutritious frozen choices created especially for children. "Parents are also looking for quick and healthy dinners or dinner components packaged for individual servings, and easy to purchase in multiples, so that they are spending less time shopping during busy back- to-school times."
While she notes that the company's handheld Food Munchies, available in Chicken and Turkey Sausage varieties, "are great for lunchboxes, an after-school snack or for a quick dinner on the go," Stouffer is especially eager to shine the spotlight on Mom Made's new Italian Style Beef Meatballs, hitting supermarket freezers in mid-July. "We're very excited about this new product, as it's the healthiest Italian beef meatball on the market, with only 170 milligrams of sodium per serving and antibiotic-free beef,” she says.
In the realm of back-to-school promotions, "Mom Made Foods is doing a lot with special in-store pricing geared for multiple purchases," observes Stouffer. "Deep discounts will provide consumers opportunities for two-for or three-for price points. The promotional shelf tags will draw attention to our offering. With many retailers, we will couple these temporary price reductions (TPRs) with an e-flyer."
Rolled out to all of its retail partners, the company's TPR promos "will be supporting in-store activities, with integrated in-store sampling events, social media, geo-targeted PR outreach and grass-roots campaigning," she adds.
Stouffer believes that the foods Mom Made provides are squarely on trend, and will remain so. "Families are continuing to tune in to the health aspect of what they're buying, and reading labels more,” she observes. "They're especially keyed into portion sizes, sugar, sodium, protein, and ingredients that they can identify and understand. Mom Made Foods uses clean ingredients and organic foods, so that parents know exactly what nutrition they are feeding their kids."
In common with lunch, snacks and dinner, breakfast presents a prime selling opportunity during the back-to-school timeframe. One company hoping to capitalize on that daypart is Vaughan, Ontario-based Ozery Bakery.
"Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day for children, we're seeing an increased focus on a more nutritionally sound breakfast," says Paul Vlahos, the company's VP of sales. "Our Morning Rounds are our real fruit-and-grain answers to traditional breakfast breads like muffins, doughnuts and pastries, and they have lower calories and sugar."
According to Vlahos, Ozery is debuting individually packaged, single-serve Morning Rounds appropriate for snacking or as lunchbox stuffers, as well as already offering the product in a smaller form known as Snacking Rounds. Other items targeting the back-to-school occasion are a new Date & Chia Morning Round flavor and Soft Ciabatta Thins, both due in stores in mid-July.
When it comes to merchandising Ozery's SKUs, Vlahos has some placement advice for grocers. "As our Morning Rounds products are typically merchandised in the store bakery, in the freezer section or in the breakfast breads section of the bread aisle, we feel retailers could see an uptick in business by merchandising our products next to other morning staples like milk and eggs during back-to-school season," he suggests. "We also have a free-standing display which is a helpful tool in which to explore placement in other selling areas as well."
Further, the company provides "a wide assortment of retail and distributor trade promotions such as off-invoice allowances, scan allowances, etc., in order to enable retailers to offer our products at very competitive promotional prices for the back-to-school season," adds Vlahos.
Ozery also has a number of consumer promotions planned to launch via social media channels, including $1-off consumer coupons and a program giving shoppers an opportunity to receive a free retro-style toaster with a Morning Rounds purchase.
When asked about emerging trends, Vlahos points to broader consumer demand for whole grains and Non-GMO ingredients in the bread category, but notes that families have particular needs regarding products for their youngsters. "For back-to-school, parents want foods they can feel good about feeding their children,” he asserts, "but good-tasting healthy foods are the key. No parent wants to see their kid's lunch back come home untouched!"
Thinking Inside the Box
In addition to General Mills' annual “Box Tops for Education” promotion, which will feature two Box Tops on more than 75 of the company’s SKUs and 90 million packages, the Northfield, Ill.-based manufacturer will offer a new way to earn Box Tops during the back-to-school season, through the "Box Tops Receipt Rewards" program.
From July 21 to Aug. 31, shoppers will be able to earn 50 Box Tops with the purchase of 10 Box Tops for Education products. After purchasing the required items, they can then send photos of their receipts to [email protected], which can easily be done via smartphone, to amass their Box Tops.