Kids’ frozen food finds favour with manufacturers

Posted by Isobel Drake on 9th October 2009

A new report by Leatherhead Food Research has highlighted that, in addition to preparing fun and easy-to-cook recipes, frozen food manufacturers are serving up healthier products for kids.

Children have traditionally been a pivotal market for food manufacturers and the rise in concerns over childhood obesity has helped encourage greater interest in children’s foods, with many major manufacturers and retailers launching new products targeted at this consumer group. The reformulation of versions of old children’s favourites has also been common.

In frozen foods this has centred on the reduction of saturated fats, as well as on adding healthier ingredients to recipes. The category has been well-positioned to introduce products that help parents increase the consumption of vegetables in their children’s meals, as frozen foods can be both convenient and fun to eat for kids.

Innovation in this area has been particularly dynamic in Europe, with France’s Bonduelle introducing products like FamiliBall croquette balls of carrots and peas; Spain’s Farm Frites launching peas as an ingredient in its Fun Letters potato product; and Italy’s Findus Sofficini Doppio Ripieno launching a new mozzarella, courgette, carrot and aubergine filling in its range of potato pockets. With regards to saturated fat reduction, an example comes from Findus UK with the launch of Crispy Bites Pepperoni and Mozzarella Cheese and Crispy Bites Sausage and Baked Bean, both of which claim to contain less than 2% saturated fat, the Leatherhead report notes.

Child oriented products

Looking at the overall picture of child-oriented foods and beverages, in terms of penetration, frozen foods lag far behind categories such as flavoured milk, sugar confectionery and breakfast cereals, where children’s lines account for 42 per cent of total sales for the former category and 37 per cent for the two latter categories. In contrast, frozen foods with a marked child-orientation (i.e. products whose packaging and product features are designed with child appeal in mind) represents just 2 per cent of the total sales of frozen foods.

In terms of sales values, however, the category is one of the largest for children’s foods, and it competes head-on with sales of child-oriented fruit drinks and take-home ice cream.