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Products overtly positioned for children account for a relatively small share of total innovation in the cake and bread segments. In fact, just 1% of bread and bread products and 4% of cakes, pastries and sweet goods launches in the last 12 months have been overtly targeted at children.

By Chris Brockman, Research Manager, Food and Drink, EMEA region

  • A relatively small number of bakery launches overtly target children even though households with kids are the biggest users of bakery products.
  • Beyond event merchandising, engaging concepts for children can also include shaped and visually appealing products.
  • The health profile of bakery products is increasingly important and there are a number of ways to engage parents with health messages.

There is a lack of kid-focused innovation in bakery

Of total food and drink launches targeted at children, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) the leading categories are breakfast cereals, sweet biscuits/cookies and sugar confectionery items, such as pastilles, gums, jellies and chews. Cakes, pastries and sweet goods (4% share of total launches) is the fourth leading category, but bread and bread products (less than 1% share) is well down the list.

This is despite the fact that families with kids are the most important demographic for both breads and cakes. In June 2015, for example, 86% of UK households containing children aged 6-12 had bought packaged loaf bread in the previous three months, versus 77% of households without children, according to Bread and Baked Goods, UK, October 2015. With regard to cakes, in December 2015, 70% of UK households containing children between the ages of six and 12 had bought cake bars/wrapped slices, versus 48% of households without children, according to Cakes and Cake Bars, UK, March 2016.

However, beyond the mere higher purchasing habits of households with kids, the fact that many parents’ choices of products are influenced by the preferences of their children is also hugely relevant. Almost

two thirds

(65%) of UK parents buying snacks for their children say they are more likely to buy snacks that their child approves of, according to Kids’ Snacking, UK, May 2015. Appealing to the pester power of children, as well as to the sensibilities of parents, is thus important – and when it comes to kid appeal, “taste” and “fun to eat” top the list of attributes desired.

Child appeal has traditionally meant event merchandising and “fun” factors

Beyond simply appealing to taste, relying on event merchandising or “fun” elements (such as competitions, fun formats, etc.) to appeal to children has been a longstanding tactic, especially in the cake market. Event merchandising as a claim was seen in 14% of launches of cakes/pastries/sweet goods and bread/bread products targeted at children in the 12 months leading up to September 2016.

Fun, lunchbox-friendly formats can compete especially well in this market. The rise of individually wrapped chocolate chip brioches in markets such as the UK, for example, is a good example as they represent fun formats for children and easy lunchbox-friendly solutions for parents. Brioche Pasquier is now one of the fastest growing bakery players in the UK market and recently built a new production site in the country.

Brioche Pasquier Pitch Choc Chip Brioche (UK)


Features a chance to win sports prizes in conjunction with Team SuperSchools. Retails in a 225 g pack, containing six 37.5 g individually wrapped units.

An element with potentially high child appeal that hasn’t been fully exploited in the bakery sector is the role of shaped products. In 2015, UK baker Warburtons launched a shaped line of pre-sliced sandwich thins, cut into van and cat shapes to provide “parents with a quick and convenient way to liven up lunchboxes”. With bread explicitly targeted at kids being somewhat lacking in the market, further such innovation could find appeal (although notably the Warburtons line itself has been discontinued).

One of the most successful examples of a shaped cake product is Mondelēz’s teddy bear-shaped cake, branded under numerous different names according to country (LuLu in France, Barny in the UK, Lubisie in Poland and so on). With a greater focus on the visual appeal of foods and drinks, as per Mintel’s Eat with Your Eyes trend, more such approaches to innovation could continue to find success.

The health profile of kids’ bakery products needs attention

However, with bakery snacks for children often criticized for their unhealthy profile or, as the CEO of the Fabulous Bakin’ Boys noted in 2015, being no more than “confectionery in sheep’s clothing”, health aspects must be taken seriously, especially to gain parental approval. As the claim analysis above shows, while removing artificial additives is now fairly mainstream in launches of bakery products targeted at children, and therefore no longer acts as a differentiating factor, other health aspects are in short supply. Addressing a positive nutritional message to parents could resonate well. According to Mintel, over half of UK parents buying snacks for their children would like to see healthier versions of their favorite treats, and 44% seek snacks with no added sugar.

Incorporating more fruit and vegetable content could be a way to increase health credentials yet still provide taste appeal. Other sectors, such as snack bars, are far more advanced in this aspect. Added fortification with calcium or vitamins is also unlikely to dent taste appeal for children but would capture the parent’s interest. A recent launch from Lieken Urkorn in Germany is unique: it is a packaged bread loaf targeted directly at children and features calcium, vitamin D and a claim to be rich in fiber.

Lieken Urkorn Sandwich Bread (Germany) 

Has been developed for and with children. The bread is rich in calcium and vitamin D and rich in fibers like wholemeal, making the bread soft and juicy.

Using alternative ingredients to promote a healthier positioning also shows potential. Across Europe, parents show much greater levels of interest in cakes made with healthier alternative ingredients, such as sugar alternatives, ancient grains, coconut oil and vegetables other than carrot.

The organic offer is also clearly underrepresented in the cakes and breads for the kids

segments (just 1% of NPD), especially given recent strong growth in the organic bread market in the US, for example. Considering that 29% of global baby food launches in the last 12 months have been organic, there is also potential to tap into parental concern for ensuring continuity on this front as children age. Hain Celestial, for instance, has recently launched a line of organic breads aimed at children under its Rudi’s Organic brand in the US.

Likewise, gluten-free is a claim that has penetrated well in the baby food sector globally (25% of all launches in the last 12 months), but low/no/reduced allergen claims as a whole are largely unused in kids’ cakes and bread products.



Rudi’s Organic Bakery Organic Soft White Kids Bread (US)

Said to be made with simple ingredients in small batches, this fluffy bread is free from GMOs, dairy, artificial preservatives and high-fructose corn syrup. This kosher-certified product is suitable for vegans and contains ingredients that reviewers note are “recognizable and pronounceable”.


You can read more in our print magazine European Baker & Biscuit (Jan/Feb)!


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