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Retail View: Bolthouse launches refrigerated retail snack program for kids

Beginning with seven new fruit- or vegetable-forward offerings, Bolthouse Farms in Bakersfield, CA, has launched a new line of kid snacks designed to be sold in a healthy kids section of the produce department.

Suzanne Ginestro, vice president of strategic marketing at Bolthouse Farms, which is one of the larger producers of baby carrots and premium juice beverages in North America, told The Produce News that the new line would be launched Aug. 11, with at least 15 retail chains already committed to the program.BFK veggieclamshell

She said Giant Eagle, A&P, Hy-Vee and other regional retailers will launch on that date, while some of the nation’s larger national supermarkets — such as Walmart and Safeway — are contemplating doing some test marketing of the concept in the near future.  

Ginestro said the idea has been in the making for 18 months and represents Bolthouse’s goal of giving kids more healthy options.  

“I’m a mom of two kids myself, and it is frustrating that when I’m looking for items that won’t have the boomerang effect, they all come out of the pantry,” she said. “We need more items that come out of the refrigerator.”

She explained that there are, of course, a plethora of whole fruits and vegetables that can be placed in a kid’s lunch in the morning, but most of them come back at the end of the day uneaten, which is what she calls the “boomerang effect.”

The new line of kid snacks is based around real fruits and vegetables with no added preservatives and is designed to have the flavors kids are looking for in a snack.

Ginestro said this effort is the result of lots of research to find out what moms want to buy for their kids, and taste testing to make sure that kids will eat the items.

“There are tons of choices to fill a lunch box, but very few are ideal for moms,” she said. “We are trying to get more fresh fruits and vegetables in those lunch boxes.”

The seven items in the initial launch, which will be branded as “Bolthouse Farms Kids,” come from three categories — smoothies, fruit tubes and veggie snackers. Ginestro said there are two smoothies, three fruit tubes and two veggie snackers.

Ginestro believes these items are winners with a great chance for commercial success. The Bolthouse executive said there are many other items in the testing phase that will be introduced as the program proves its worth.

Along with the launch of the products, Bolthouse is offering merchandising services and consulting to retailers, advising them how to market the items and how to reset that section of their produce department to take maximum advantage of these new items. The goal is to create a snack destination within the produce department of every retail store in the country.

“The launch of Bolthouse Farms Kids underscores our commitment to continually inspire healthy eating in children through products and flavors that make fruits and vegetables fun,” Jeff Dunn, president and chief executive officer of Bolthouse Farms, said in a company press release. “Junk food is winning the war on grabbing the attention of Americans, particularly our kids. Our hope is that by introducing a line of products that kids want to eat and moms can feel good about we can drive a lasting love of these foods and a healthier future for the next generation.”

The new refrigerated snacking destination created by Bolthouse Farms is intended to drive an evolution in kids’ snacking habits similar to what has taken place with adults over the last several years, with more people reaching for better-for-you options in the refrigerator.

While Bolthouse obviously wants to feature Bolthouse Farms Kids products at the new retail destination, Ginestro said Bolthouse hopes other companies create new produce-forward refrigerated snack options for children.  And, in fact, there are already many items that would qualify such as pre-cut fruit, fruit purees and fruit-and-vegetable snack packs.

To maximize consumer traffic to the kids’ snacking section, Bolthouse Farms will provide retailers with a full merchandising system to implement on shelf and will maintain the destination on an ongoing basis, if that is a service that retailers would like.

Ginestro said the point-of-sale material being created is not branded, so many different products can participate in that section.

The specific initial Bolthouse Farms Kids products involved in this launch are a Strawberry Meets Banana and a Peach Meets Mango smoothie. The fruit tube options are Mango Meets Banana & Pineapple, Strawberry Meets Banana and Blueberry Meets Raspberry With Greek Yogurt.

The fruit tubes can be eaten out of the refrigerator for a creamy fruit experience or out of the freezer as a delicious frozen treat.

Veggie snackers will come in Carrot Meets Ranch and Carrot Meets Chili Lime flavors.