UK food makers have been focused on the lunchbox trend but have failed to notice a gaping hole full of promise – the after school snacking occasion, a Mintel analyst says.
Over three-quarters (86%) of UK children aged 7-15 snack at least once a day and 52% snack several times in the day, according to Mintel research. Just over half (56%) snack while watching TV or playing on the computer.
“While a host of manufacturers promote the suitability of their products for the lunchbox or lunchtime occasion, few brands or private labels have looked to position their products as being overtly suitable as an after school snack, potentially missing out on a lucrative snacking occasion,” said Amy Price, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel.
“It’s an untapped occasion – it could be another string to their bow,” Price told this website.
“It seems silly that the lunchbox trend is so strong, yet the market for after school snacks doesn’t exist. There is the potential to really understand this as an occasion but it’s not one that anyone is effectively owning.”
Bite-size learning from the lunchbox boom
“The lunchbox trend has been very focused but manufacturers could probably easily take a few of the learnings from this - like health, functionality and packaging,” Price said.
After school is a more obvious snacking occasion, she said, compared to lunchtime which is essentially a traditional meal.
“Whether kids are just hungry when home from school or watching TV and playing computer games, there is definitely an after school snacking occasion.”
1 of your 5 a day
Mintel research indicates that fresh fruit is the top snack for children aged 7-15, with 72% snacking on fruit. Crisps and salty snacks come in next at 70%, followed by chocolate (58%), sweet biscuits (53%) and yoghurt at just over half (52%).
Parents who buy snacks for their children aged 7-15 identified certain priorities when choosing products. “There’s a bit of a minefield for parents trying to choose these snacks,” said Price.
Claims that a snack includes ‘one of your five a day’ came up as a top priority – with 44% of parents ranking it the highest. This was followed by ‘low sugar’ and ‘low salt’ claims (34%). Natural with no artificial additives was important to 32% of parents, and ‘fuller for longer’ claims were a priority for 17%.
“When it says ‘one of your five a day’ it’s a simple message and an easy cue to equate with health,” Price said.
Taking a two-pronged approach
Manufacturers wanting to tap into this lucrative eating occasion must take a two-pronged approach when positioning the products, Price warned. “Kids are having a say in snack purchases.”
Mintel data shows that 40% of parents let their child have a say in purchasing decisions and just under half tend to buy snacks their kids prefer.
“You’re not allowed to target kids, but you have to meet their needs; use of colourful, fun and easy packaging appeals.”