2020 was a year like no other, changing the way we live, work and shop. With a year of restrictions which saw schools closing and consumers working from home we naturally saw changes to the way shoppers were consuming products.

For example, despite a decline in food to go, especially in the first half of last year, mults have benefited from a boost in back-of-store sales as shoppers stock up and snack at-home.

This is replicated across kids snacking, where sales remained strong, despite schools being closed (Kantar).

Whilst the decline of packed lunch occasions was unprecedented, the growth of cheese and meat snacking in the home meant sales remained steady throughout the last year.

Overall, we saw the number of out-of-home lunchboxes halved in the past 12 months, down -49.2%, dropping to 1.06 billion occasions from 2.09 billion: a loss of over 1.03bn (Kantar).

“Yet regardless of schools being closed, Strings and Things RSV was up 2.5% vs last year, an increase of £1.3 million,” says Victoria Southern, Marketing & Category Director at Kerry Foods. “With more kids at home, we’ve seen growth in at-home lunches, and through a strong innovation pipeline, combined with championing fun and adventure in snacking we’ve been able to tap into more occasions. Our mission as a brand to ‘make good food fun’ solves a real problem: we know kids want exciting snacks so we strive to reduce the guilt for parents struggling with the stress of “lunchtime boredom”. With lockdown restrictions parents have struggled to break the monotony with kids not getting stimulus from other sources – our products play a role in here.”

Covid-19 has also made us more aware of what we are putting in our bodies and the added health benefits from certain foods. Snacks that have a perceived health benefit or are known to be ‘healthier’ than others tend to be favoured by parents looking to fill lunchboxes.

Kerry Foods is looking at how it can make additional benefits to its products. Strings and Things’ newest launch Frollies are smoothies on sticks that are made with real fruit and fortified with Vitamin D to give added immunity to snack time. Cheestrings and Cheeshapes are also enriched with Calcium, giving parents peace of mind, whilst Cheestrings have added Vitamin D.

“When considering what to stock, we have seen a trend for consumers looking for larger pack sizes as they bulk buy products to top-up lunchboxes throughout the week,” adds Southern. “Strings & Things Cheestrings are available in a pack of eight, making them a perfect option for a week of school lunches. In terms of behaviour going back to normal, 77% of people plan to take a lunchbox to work or give one to their children when they return to school. Generally kids being at school (or not) determines the growth of in-home occasions; when schools are open, ‘normal’ behaviours return. For example, in the September 2020 back-to-school period, we saw kids’ lunchboxes returning to ‘normal’ levels. We can therefore expect lunchboxes to make a return as kids go back.”

Jeremy Gilboy, Founder of St Pierre Groupe, comments: “Parents will be looking for lunchbox foods that are convenient, versatile and will keep their children satisfied throughout the day, such as ingredients for tasty sandwiches. Retailers should therefore stock products that meet this criteria, as well as capitalising on consumer trends, like minimising food waste.”

More than ever, shoppers are actively seeking out longer life bakery products and brands, such as Baker Street. Packed to be fresher for longer, Baker Street guarantees a minimum life of 35 days from delivery to depot to help ensure on-shelf availability and reduce the risk of in-store wastage for retailers. This is a benefit that has never been so relevant, as shoppers look for products that have a generous shelf-life to make sure they have key items to hand for lunchboxes.

“The Baker Street brand, as a whole, is up 30 per cent year on year,“ adds Gilboy. “The range of sliced loaves and soft rolls lends itself perfectly for the back to school occasion, as it meets consumer needs around convenience and variety, whilst catering to a health conscious audience.”

Baker Street’s Sliced White Loaf is up 31 per cent in comparison to last year and Baker Street Sliced Brown Loaf is up 27 per cent (Nielsen Value Sales – MAT Feb 2021). This is the result of customers looking for staple products that can be used for multiple meal occasions.

Due to the pandemic there has been a huge shift in needs and behaviours when it comes to food. Bread has continued to remain popular, with sales of sliced bread growing by 4.6 per cent (Nielsen Value Sales – MAT Apr 2021).

Baker Street Sliced White Loaf and Sliced Brown Loaf sales are also increasing, with the brand as a whole growing 30 per cent year on year. Bread remains a key staple for the vast majority of households and, at the start this year, we saw particular growth in the trend towards staple white bread, which has increased 9.3 per cent (Nielsen Value Sales – L4 weeks MAT Feb 2021) and is still driving sales. This is due to the fact it is a versatile and convenient staple for the whole family which can be enjoyed at any time.

Sandwiches remain a popular choice because they are incredibly versatile and can easily be tailored to meet the tastes of the whole family. The market currently hosts a selection of innovative sandwich fillings and breads, all of which provide a vast option to keep lunchtimes varied for both children and adults.

As a result of the ongoing popularity of sandwiches, sales of sliced bread have risen by 4.6 per cent (Nielsen Value Sales – MAT Apr 2021) because they offer exceptional value, convenience and versatility.

“Retailers should look to merchandise back to school products together, especially if they want to offer back to school deals, in order to make the process as easy as possible for customers,” suggests Gilboy.

“Attractive and eye-catching displays of back to school products will encourage both impulse purchasing and upselling. Grouping products together will help inspire food choices for those looking for back to school items, so Baker Street sliced loaves and soft rolls should be positioned alongside sandwich fillings and snacks.”

“Children will start to go back to school in early September, with parents planning for their return from mid-August,” Gilboy continues. “It is therefore important for retailers to ensure they are fully stocked up before this time. For bread and bakery items, the longer shelf life of Baker Street means you can stock up with minimal risk of waste”.

“Child-sized meal deals which include all the elements of a healthy lunchbox can be a lifeline for busy parents who need a readymade option,” comments Charlotte Hulbert, Retail Sales Manager, Brioche Pasquier. “Healthy guidelines are mandatory at many schools, so the ideal is to tempt parents with wholesome products that are also practical and cost effective.”

Most lunchboxes will include a piece of fruit or carrot/celery/cucumber sticks, a sandwich, wrap or brioche roll filled with fish, meat, cheese or beans, a small yogurt or sugarless jelly and perhaps a healthy drink. “Also consider what children will want as well as what parents would like them to have!” adds Hulbert. “While most parents will want to ensure the contents are healthy, it is always a great idea to get children involved in making their own lunchboxes. Giving children a say in what goes into the box is a good way to ensure it comes home empty, so retailers need to offer a tempting choice of products that will please everyone.”

Parents making lunchboxes at home like to have security of supply for at least a week on their shelves so there is no Friday panic with nothing to put in the box. Brioche Pasquier’s brioche products stay fresh for up to 21 days allowing families to plan and resulting in less waste. Brioche Pasquier is the nation’s favourite brioche brand and its long lasting -products contain no preservatives, artificial flavours or hydrogenated fats.

Its packaging is also practical, for example, its PITCH products come in packs of four or six, and the croissants are twin wrapped in packs of six. This means the elements within will remain fresh in their individual packing, so there can always be a brioche snack on the shelf.

Children across the nation continue to be treated to their favorite miniature biscuits, despite the recent absence of school lunchboxes and on-the-go snacking occasions.

Burton’s, the No.1 manufacturer in the £54.4m Kids Minis Biscuits market (Nielsen) is encouraging retailers to stock up on biscuit portion packs, as demand continues for more permissible lunch accompaniments and snacking options that can be enjoyed both at home or on-the-go, as part of a balanced diet.

Kate Needham, Marketing Director at Burton’s Biscuit Company, says: “The easing of lockdown has seen the number of consumption occasions rise dramatically, with Maryland Mini’s and Jammie Dodgers Mini’s perfectly placed to once more meet consumer needs for a permissible treat on-the-go, in the car, after school sports and leisure activities, as well as in lunchboxes or as an afternoon snack.”

Many of Burton’s best-selling brands such as Jammie Dodgers and Maryland Cookies are available in mini bite size or individual portions, as the company leads the way in portion-controlled biscuits, offering the strongest ‘less than 100 calories per serve’ range in the UK’s £3 billion biscuits category.

Burton’s Biscuit. Co is set to accelerate demand for the nation’s No.1 kids minis brand (Nielsen), Maryland Minis, with the addition of a tasty chocolate orange variant.

“The new addition to the £12.8m Maryland Minis brand, gives consumers an increased choice of permissible biscuits and snacks under 100 calories,” adds Needham.

Meeting the increasing demand for chocolate orange flavoured treats, Maryland Minis Choc Orange is available now across Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons stores. Each multi-pack contains 6 x 19.8g mini bags with an MSRP of £1, in line with the Maryland Minis range.

“Research shows half of Maryland Minis shoppers also bought orange flavoured biscuits last year. At less than 100 calories a bag, we know this tasty addition to our range will appeal to parents in search of a permissible and convenient treat for the lunchbox or as an on-the-go snack,” adds Kate.

 

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