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Lunch boxes are traditionally the bane of a parent’s life. Ensuring a healthy balance and keeping the contents interesting so the lunch is eaten is a constant see-saw. Interesting snacks and different ways to quickly ‘change up’ the lunch box are always in demand as are items with a good shelf life.

With families struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, the key trend this term is set to be affordability. Beyond that, customers will be looking for versatile products to compensate for somewhat monotonous school packed lunches, which are likely to feature cost-efficient sandwiches. Where they can, parents will look to diversify the styles used in lunches, such as mixing up fillings or bread type. Different styles of bread are seeing an uptick in popularity, as consumers become more adventurous when looking for different tastes but require the consistency that traditional bread offers.

Andy Smith, Retail Sales Manager, Brioche Pasquier, comments: “Brioche Pasquier’s range bridges both types of buyers. It offers good value, high quality, convenient and family friendly varieties. It also is a step away from the traditional sliced loaf and white bun, offering a slightly sweet and softly textured variation that children enjoy.

“Retailers need to keep their bakery shelves dependable while at the same time adding interest with new and different bakery products. Brioche Pasquier offers the comfort of a familiar, well-established brand with a sprinkling of continental glamour to make the offering more exciting.”

When it comes to versatility, Brioche Pasquier’s PITCH chocolate filled brioche remain one of its most popular products. Individually wrapped in packs of four or six, PITCH works well as a snack, in a lunch box, or to eat on the go. They can be enjoyed cold or microwaved for a matter of seconds for an indulgent gooey treat, making them a hit with children. Individually wrapped in multipacks of 6, free from artificial colours, free from preservatives, free from hydrogenated fats, and suitable for Vegetarians, PITCH ticks all the lunch box boxes.

This year Brioche Pasquier is running an on-pack promotion to 3rd September across the full PITCH range (Choc Filled 4 & 6-pack, Choc Chip 4 & 6-pack, Bloc ‘O’Choc 4-pack) that offers 2,000 x 12-month Kids Passes to be won during the 8-week promotion period (250 x 12-month Kids Passes to be won per week).

Kids Pass is the #1 Family Saving App that offers discounted access to the experiences families love most, whether it’s day-trip adventures, cinema missions, bites to eat, or even family holidays.

An on-pack QR code will direct to a competition microsite where the pack batch code will need to be entered for a chance to win.

Andrew Bradshaw, UK Sales Director at Dole Sunshine Company, comments: “There’s nothing new about the desire for many parents to want to give their children a healthy lunch, but this has come into even sharper focus since the start of the pandemic with most consumers becoming even more health aware and unsurprisingly this has translated into being more health conscious with their food choices. This was backed up by a recent survey (Kantar/Mintel) of parents on what they felt was the most important factor for their child’s diet, which revealed nearly half (47%) felt it was getting their five-a-day. So many children miss this daily target so perhaps packaged fruit snacks like ours in lunchboxes can be part of the solution? In addition, many schools now have rules about what can be included in children’s lunchboxes due to health and / or allergy concerns, which is another factor for parents to consider.”

A recent survey on attitudes to healthy eating revealed that 32% (Mintel) of people admit that money concerns cause them to eat less healthily.

For many consumers who are shopping on a budget, fresh fruit and vegetables can be one of the first things to come off the shopping list, which really highlights the importance of retailers and brands who are committed to supporting healthier choices for their customers, and specifically helping people to eat healthily on a budget.

However, healthier choices don’t have to be more expensive, as consumers can buy a four pack of Dole’s fruit in juice cups for just £2.19 which offers them a great tasting and healthy product at a price most can afford which are perfect for lunchboxes.

“I think in general; shoppers now understand that ambient goods increasingly have a role to play as they not only offer good value and have longer shelf lives, but in the case of our Dole packaged fruit range, can also be one of your five-a-day and a healthy part of their overall diet,” adds Bradshaw. “This knowledge may well translate into lunchbox selections with parents looking for healthy ambient products which offer good value and limit risk of wastage.”

A recent survey by StreetBees of nearly 50,000 consumers showed that the number one attribute sought when deciding on what to eat and drink was ‘no added or low sugar’ content, which should be front of mind for supermarkets when considering what consumers are looking for in terms of lunch options.

Dole has begun to put Nutri-Score ratings on the front of all its branded products which reflects its commitment to good nutrition and informed food choices. Nutri-Score is a color-coded nutritional label that classifies foods and beverages according to the nutritional quality of a product, with a scale from A (healthier choices) to E (less healthy choices). Nutri-score is calculated taking into account both the nutrients you should limit (calories, sat. fat, sugars and salt) and those that should be favoured (percentage of fruits, vegetables and nuts, fibre, protein). The food is then assigned a colour and letter based on the score, making it quicker and easier for consumers to compare products. For example, the recently launched Fruit & Cream range has a Nutri-Score of B.

Alistair Gaunt, Commercial Director at Hovis, comments: “As households across the country grapple with rising prices, shoppers are looking to make cost-savings wherever they can. As a result, homemade lunchboxes will be the ‘go-to’ solution for many parents looking to save money this year. Recent research (Perspectus Global) has shown that 72% of consumers believe that a home-made sandwich for lunch is unbeatable. With sandwiches often a core component of any lunchbox, stocking a range of quality wrapped bread should be a focus for any retailers looking to cater for the back to school occasion.”

While many shoppers may be looking to save money, there is still a huge desire for quality bakery products from recognised brands like Hovis that consumers know and trust.

Sales of white bread currently account for over 55% of pre-packaged bread units sold (NIQ). Given the current economic climate, many shoppers are buying fewer different types of bread for their households and are increasingly moving towards pre-packaged white bread, which is most likely to satisfy the needs of multiple people (NIQ). It is therefore clearly important for retailers to stock white bread as it is a potential “crowd-pleaser” for everyone in the household.

Health and wellness, as well as great taste, continue to play a key role in helping shoppers decide what to eat, especially when it comes to children’s lunchboxes. Hovis Best of Both combines the great taste of white bread with wholemeal flour and delivers a source of fibre. It is also rich in calcium and, as supported by recent research, almost half of those surveyed agreed that Hovis Best of Both is something that everyone in the family would eat (Zinklar). Therefore, stocking both Hovis Best of Both, as well as Hovis Wholemeal should be key as part of a lunchbox-oriented range of bread.

“The traditional sandwich remains a key part of any lunchbox so making sure there’s a good range of pre-packaged bread on offer that caters for different tastes available at all times is essential to cater for the back to school trend,” adds Gaunt. “In particular, we’d recommend stocking our best-selling products such as Hovis® Soft White 800g medium-sliced, (the biggest branded medium-sliced white bread in GB, NIQ), Hovis® Soft White 800g thick-sliced, Hovis® Wholemeal® and Hovis® Seed Sensations® (the biggest branded loaf of “bread with bits” in GB, NIQ).”

Recent research commissioned by Hovis (Perspectus Global) showed that the top sandwich fillers are still some of the all-time favourites: ham and cheese, egg with mayo or cress and BLT. Offering a selection of these classic sandwich fillers alongside a range of pre-packaged bread like Hovis with its extensive portfolio to suit all tastes and budgets, will help retailers ensure they’re well-prepared to respond to rising demand for packed lunches.

“Creating a back to school occasion display can really help to drive impact in store,” says Gaunt. “For example, displaying a range of lunchbox essentials, such as pre-packaged bread, sandwich fillers and fruit, next to or close to each other and offering cross-category promotions can help to boost sales. Where running promotions, using PoS in store can also help build shopper awareness of the different offers available and encourage them to buy multiple items in one shop.”

Shopper demand for tried and tested, value for money and healthier solutions are two of the main trends for children’s lunchboxes. Therefore, stocking products and offering promotions that tap into these trends should be a big area of focus for retailers looking to cater for the back to school and occasion in store.

Retailers need to offer both breadth and depth within their ranges by including household favourites such as Hovis® Soft White, Hovis® Best of Both and Hovis® Wholemeal.

“We recommend ensuring the most popular products are displayed at eye level in convenience stores. These products will often have a single facing, so it’s important to ensure the customer sees them and knows they are available,” suggests Gaunt.

“We’d also recommend that stores enhance their pre-packaged products wherever possible, e.g., cross-promoting with other favourites to help provide inspiration for shoppers to create a more special lunchbox for their children.”

With the highest levels of spontaneous brand awareness (Walnut) in bread, Hovis has supported recent launches in-store with engaging off-shelf features which include gondola end displays and promotional shelf POS. In-store activation has been aligned with wider brand activation, including retailer online sites, where the brand has used occasion-led visuals to inspire elevated meal choices, and through the creative use of social media on its own Hovis® channels.

“We work hand in hand with many retailers and support in multiple and varied ways including delivery of market insight and performance, ranging and merchandising, opportunity identification and co-development, brand marketing and tailored activation,” Gaunt continues. “All of our NPD is insight-driven, either anticipating or as a response to leading consumer trends to help retailers tap into the latest opportunities in the category.”

Matt Collins, Trading Director at KP Snacks, comments: “As the summer holidays draw to a close, retailers should be ready to boost sales by capitalising on back to school and back to university opportunities. Bagged snacks are a staple in children’s lunchboxes making the back to school occasion a critical opportunity for retailers to drive CSN sales.”

Health remains a top priority for consumers, with parents seeking out healthier options for their children’s lunchboxes and after-school snacks.

KP Snacks offers a broad portfolio of tasty and permissible snacks, including over 100 non-HFSS SKUs, the equivalent of a quarter of its portfolio. The company believes that snacks can be enjoyed as part of a balanced lifestyle, and is continuously working to provide snacks that are both delicious and permissible.

Its non-HFSS products include Hula Hoops Puft. Worth £9.1m (Nielsen IQ), Hula Hoops Puft is a deliciously light, low-calorie snack. Coming in at just 72 calories per pack, Hula Hoops Puft offers a great option for a healthier lunchbox snack in tasty flavours: Salt & Vinegar, Salted and Grilled Beef.

Worth £29.1m RSV and growing in value +22.1% (Nielsen IQ), the POM-BEAR brand is the perfect choice for family shoppers. With 15% of households avoiding gluten and wheat (Mintel), the light and crispy melt-in-the-mouth crisp is a perfect gluten and guilt-free snack for lunchboxes. POM-BEAR contains fewer than 100 calories per pack, with 5.7m households consuming the brand every year (Kantar). Household names like POM-BEAR reassure parents that they are providing their children with a healthy and great tasting product from a trusted brand.l


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