The category of foods and beverages made for and marketed toward children has recently experienced tremendous growth with even more progress in sight. The global kids food and beverage industry is predicted to grow from its current valuation at $104.2 billion to $147.1 billion by 2027, according to data from a Reportlinker.com report.
Just as general food and beverage trends have shifted in recent years, this category has followed suit. The coronavirus pandemic further emphasized consumers’ desire for healthy options as they spent more time eating food at home. These products proved to be especially needed for children as parents needed to provide healthy, convenient foods for students who may have been learning remotely during pandemic-related school closures.
Several children-focused food and beverage companies have attracted attention and investments recently. Direct-to-consumer baby food-maker Little Spoon raised $44 million in a financing round to expand the subscription service and frozen treat brand Chloe’s partnered with superhero franchise Marvel for a line of branded Kids Pops at Whole Foods Market. Children’s snack pouch manufacturer Once Upon A Farm acquired frozen baby food delivery company Raised Real, and wellness product company Kinderfarms recently debuted its new company identity and added actress and entrepreneur Jessica Biel as a co-founder of the brand.
“Many parents have told us about the impossible trade-offs they face, of having to choose between artificial health products that they know work, and natural or organic products that may not be as effective or nutritious,” said Jeremy Adams, CEO and co-founder of Kinderfarms.
Creating nutritious options for kids
Kinderfarms is best known for its medical-grade hydration Kinderlyte products made for kids, and the company is launching the Kindersprout nutrition shake line next month, according to Adams. As parents themselves, Adams and Biel set out to produce health products with clean ingredients to build a “kinder farmaceutical company.”
“We know it’s almost impossible to get a young child to consume something they don’t want to so we aim to please both picky parents AND picky eaters by creating products that are effective and nutritious while naturally delicious,” said Adams. “Parents are seeking health and wellness products, without all the added artificial ingredients, that work when it really counts while kids are taste driven and want something ‘yummy’.”
Once Upon A Farm is also striving to please both kids and their adult caregivers with their products. The brand’s snack pouches feature organic ingredients without added sugar, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives and are cold-pressed to ensure the food locks in nutrients, taste and texture “to support growing kids at every stage,” said Cassandra Curtis and John Foraker, co-founders of the brand with Ari Raz and actress and businesswoman Jennifer Garner.
Curtis adds that the company prioritizes both nutrition content as well as taste, because “parents want to feel good about what they’re giving their kids and want to know their kids are willing to eat what they give them.”
Chloe’s is a brand that develops healthier frozen dessert alternatives for all consumers, but the company created a Kids Pop line with a recipe that only uses fruit, water and cane sugar because “Chloe’s mission is fueled by our commitment to making better-for-you treats more accessible to all, and kids are a huge part of the equation,” said president and co-founder Chloe Epstein.
Epstein shared that Disney/Marvel approached her brand to create new flavors of Kids Pops with Chloe’s in order to provide fans of their characters with foods that had better-for-you ingredients, resulting in the Spider-Man Strawberry and Lemon Pops and Avengers Cherry and Grape Pops — both of which proved to be popular.
“We want to get kids excited about smart, high-quality eating at a young age, and what better way to do it than through a smaller size pop, in their favorite fruit flavors with their favorite characters?” said Epstein.
Reaching families at home
Just as all consumer-facing industries had to find new ways to connect with consumers during the last 18 months, these brands were no exception.
As families spent more time at home, consumers across demographics shifted from stockpiling indulgent foods to seeking out healthier options, said Epstein, which allowed Chloe’s to find more customers. While supply chain issues did affect the entire industry, she did note that many of Chloe’s products such as their Kids Pops were able to succeed because of their familiarity to shoppers.
Adams shared that connecting with families in a more direct manner was key for Kinderfarms during the pandemic, adding that “no matter whether parents come across us online, in-store, in thousands of pediatrician offices or via word of mouth from a trusted friend, we believe that our clean product values are what today’s parents are looking for.”
Once Upon A Farm’s “business in the digital/online space has definitely accelerated in response to the pandemic,” said Foraker. “Before the pandemic hit we already had a strong online/DTC business, but it wasn’t our core focus. Being able to pivot to meet consumers where they needed us most (online/digitally) was how our strategy changed and quickly became our priority.”
He added that it was important for the company to express empathy for the challenges that parents and kids were facing during this unprecedented time in all its messaging.
“As we continue to age up the brand, we’re constantly innovating and challenging ourselves to make products that aren’t just good for kids, but better for kids,” said Curtis and Foraker.
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