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Novelty Shape And Fillings Drive Childrens’ ...

Novelty Shape And Fillings Drive Childrens’ Category

Considering parents’ growing concerns over their children’s health and the increasing trend towards giving them nutritious snacks, it could be assumed child-oriented cakes and biscuits represent a category in the doldrums. Not so, however.

There are certain countries in which sweet snacks of this kind are still a traditional staple of after-school snacking. At the same time, cakes and biscuits that might contain whole grains or milk ingredients still have an edge over chocolate and sugar confectionery items as occasional sweet treats. In addition, a strong market for celebration and occasion cakes has emerged in many countries as parents look for more convenient, ready-made options for birthdays and other festive occasions.

Assessing the size of the market for childrens’ cakes and biscuits is problematic as classification varies from country to country. In the UK and Ireland, for example, childrens’ products – classified as child-specific lines – represent only around 5 per cent of total biscuit sales. In France, however, it’s estimated childrens’ products account for almost half of the biscuit market, albeit including child-oriented as well as child-specific products.

France is also one of the countries to have a strong tradition in cake and biscuit consumption among children, with after-school sweet snacks having their own term: ‘gouters’. In addition to the high biscuit penetration, it is also reported child-oriented products account for 54 per cent of the cake category.

In the past 18 months there has been an 80:20 split in new product development between children’s biscuits and children’s cakes. Biscuits have traditionally been a little easier to position in the children’s category as they can be readily shaped into formats that will appeal to younger consumers, while mini varieties for snacking are well established.

Animal shapes are particularly popular, while letters and numbers are often used to add an educational and interactive element to the products. However, there are a multitude of different shapes available, some of which use their shape to associate themselves with specific cartoons or popular childrens’ programs. For example, in The Netherlands, Patria has recently launched multipacks of snack biscuits under the Ernst, Bobbie en de Rest name, with this being a popular childrens’ program in that country.

The biscuits are shaped like cartoon versions of the faces of the show’s characters.Another interesting format launched by United Biscuits in Ireland was McVitie’s ‘Crack n Snap’ biscuits. These are half-coated in chocolate and comprise rows of either Mini Pirate Crew or Mini Jungle Friends characters, four in each biscuit, which can be snapped apart before eating. This adds another child-friendly element of interaction to the product.

While shape and flavour remain the most popular ways to attract children, health and nutrition are still important themes as far as parents are concerned and the organic category in particular has seen some interesting additions in the US in recent times.

For example, the Horizon Organic dairy brand has been extended into the biscuits category this year, with the addition of cow-shaped Snack Grahams biscuits in cinnamon, honey or chocolate flavours. Meanwhile, retailer Whole Foods Market has launched organic bear-shaped Graham biscuits in honey or chocolate variants under its own brand, as well as organic animal cookies in chocolate or vanilla flavours.

Moving onto cakes, the use of shape is not quite so straightforward in this category as it is in biscuits but there have still been some interesting developments in cake formats. The Barny cake brand from Mondelez International has been available in parts of Eastern Europe for several years but arrived in the west in 2013 with a UK launch. These bear-shaped sponge cakes with filling were originally launched in chocolate or milk variants, with new apple and strawberry styles added later in the year. They are sold in packs of five individually-wrapped cakes.

Fillings are actually very important in child-oriented cakes, delivering a more interesting taste sensation than a plain sponge cake. In Australasia, Mother Earth tapped into this idea with its Pingos filled muffin balls, featuring a cartoon monkey on the packs. Each pack contains eight individually-wrapped balls and they come with chocolate, strawberry smoothie or raspberry yoghurt flavoured fillings.

Of course, a multitude of other factors play an important part in attracting both parents and children, including seasonality, with major cake suppliers particularly active throughout the Halloween period.

The point to take from this conversation, however, is cakes and biscuits continue to be a popular food option for children and, with parents busier than ever, convenience and ready-made options will no doubt, be at the top of the list.


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