Big Ideas for Little People

Meeting the nutritional needs of time-crunched consumers seems to be something many companies are working toward these days, and I recently heard some interesting perspectives, specifically regarding kids. The first was a radio report that profiled a school district trying to come up with ways to guide its students to better eating. The report touched on the now-familiar issues of vending machines and the types of food available in schools. But it also included comments from a school principal who said each morning she watches kids get out of cars littered with donut and snack cake wrappers. In the effort to get kids to school on busy mornings, many parents are handing kids pre-packaged snack foods to eat in the car on the way to school, and according to this educator, these kids are nutritionally deficient before they even walk through the door.
Last month, at Beverage Industry’s annual New Products Conference, Kim Feil, chief executive officer at Mosaic InfoForce, also touched on childhood nutrition, but her research showed families with children have a stronger interest in nutrition than any other group. It seems obvious that at least part of the disconnect between interest and practice is convenience, and Feil says there’s potential for beverages in the solution.
According to Mosaic’s research, the demonstrated growth potential for nutritional snack foods and beverages among families with kids is 7.2 percent for families with children under five; 7.1 percent with children under 11; and 6.7 percent with children under 17. Growth potential for indulgent products for the same families is negative for all age groups, and "healthier" products only have growth potential for families with kids in the 12 to 17 age group. Seven percent might not seem like hitting the jackpot, but keep in mind that soft drink growth was flat and juice has had negative sales during the past year.
Attendees at the New Products Conference found the idea compelling and in our first new products contest picked a nutritious dairy/juice-based kids drink concept as the best new product (see page 11 for details). Sure, our impromptu product developers had their eyes on the prize we offered to the team that came up with the best idea, but they also were tapping into a product category that could have great potential for the beverage company that gets it right.
All of the teams that participated in the contest had great ideas — one team created a sugar-free, protein-enhanced soft drink for teens, with a target only slightly older than the winning drink; some focused on aging (or more appropriately, how to avoid it); and one Viagra-inspired drink had a very specific target in mind and very clever branding to back it up. A special thank you goes to all of the participants who enthusiastically shared their ideas. We enjoyed it, and we hope they did, too.
On another note, Beverage Industry is pleased to add David Kolman to the roster of industry experts who have been willing to share their knowledge and writing skills with our readers. David is a transportation expert, with trucking operations experience of his own, and a tenure with A&F Foods as well as American Trucker Magazine, Truck Sales & Leasing Magazine, Heavy Duty Trucking and RoadStar. Beginning this month, David will write a monthly column, and we’re happy to have him onboard.