“In the fruit snack category, the first ingredient for most of the competition is sugar and the second ingredient is typically added sugar,” which is contributing to the larger problem of children eating “well above the USDA guidelines” for daily sugar intake, said Jon Lesser, senior director of marketing at KIND Snacks.
But, he added at Natural Products Expo West, with the launch of KIND Fruit Bites “we want to change the script on that by bringing nutrient dense options into that category for consumers.”
He explained that unlike competing fruit snacks which are typically made from fruit juice and purees and shaped to look like fruit, KIND Fruit Bites actually are fruit and nothing else.
“We created fruit snacks that have three ingredients or less and each ingredient is real fruit,” which the brand calls out in large bold font on the front of pack along with corresponding photos of the fruit, Lesser said.
For example, one SKU includes one strawberry, two cherries and three-quarters of an apple in each serving. Another has two slices of mango, two slices of pineapple and four-fifths of apple. The third has five cherries and half an apple per pouch.
Also unlike many competitors, KIND Fruit Bites include the fiber because the whole fruit is dried, pressed together and chopped into bite-size pieces.
The brand is so proud of the ingredients, and the lack of added sugar that it also includes a call-out on the front of the package directing consumers to double check the Ingredient Facts panel on the side of the box.
“Most companies want to hide the ingredients, but we not only want to show you what they are, we want to encourage you to do more research into it,” Lesser.
This level of transparency is especially important in the children’s snack segment because “it is so important to deliver the right nutritional value to kids when you make that first foray into the market,” he added.
The appeal of children’s snacks to KIND
KIND was moved to enter the children’s snack segment for three main reasons, according to Lesser.
The first, he said, is that the company knew children enjoyed some of its products and that the brand would resonate well. Specifically, he noted that children like many of the brand’s new Pressed bars which including only fruit and vegetables or fruit and chia with no added sugar. However, the KIND Fruit Bites are formulated with more child-focused ingredients, so not kale and not chia seeds, which can have an off-putting texture to children.
Second, retailers recognized KIND as a health and wellness leader among a particular consumer base and asked the company to help address “outages in foods for kids,” including the fruit snack aisle where many millennials refuse to shop “because they have been educated to know that it is just not the place for them,” said Lesser.
And finally, KIND bars may have mass appeal, but the brand is rated one of the most trusted by millennials and as this demographic grows older and starts to have families the company wanted to provide them with a nutrient dense option for their children, Lesser said.
Next up: Breakfast
In addition to reimagining the fruit snack segment, KIND Snacks also expanded its footprint in the breakfast bar segment with the launch of KIND Breakfast Protein bars.
“We launched our KIND Breakfast line last year in January 2016, and it has been pretty successful so we wanted to figure out what need space was missing in the breakfast occasion,” and the company landed on a protein bar after realizing that its protein peanut butter clusters is its No. 1 selling granola, Lesser said.
Beyond packing 8 grams of protein, the soft baked bars also are a good source of fiber and have at least one full serving of whole grains, which Lesser notes, “helps you feel full longer, and that is the most important thing at the start of the day.”
Plus, he said, they are a convenient and “taste amazing.”
The line-up will hit stores in June and includes three flavors, including Dark Chocolate Cocoa, Almond Butter and Maple Cinnamon.
Other new launches
Other new products showcased at Natural Products Expo West including a new KIND Health Grains bar which is made with 20 grams of whole “super” grains, including oats, millet, buckwheat, amaranth and quinoa, but also delivers on “permissible indulgence,” Lesser said.
He explained that the Double Dark Chocolate bar includes dark chocolate pieces and is made with cocoa mixed into the grains for a decadent tasting bar that still has only 5 grams of sugar.
The company also is launching Minis – a bite-sized take on its classic bars.
“Obviously, we have a lot of success with our core bar business, this is what really KIND is built upon, but we heard from consumers that sometimes they break the bar in half and a little bit in the morning and then finish it after lunch as a treat,” Lesser said.
“So,” he added, “we decided to make it easier for consumers by taking half the bar, individually wrapping them in portion-controlled 100-calorie packs.”
Finally, the company is expanding its Pressed bar line with the launch of a Strawberry Apple Chia stock-keeping-unit.