(UPDATED COVERAGE, April 12) Crunch Pak plans to introduce Flavorz, a sliced apple product for children, at the United Fresh 2012 convention in May before a nationwide retail rollout in August.
Flavorz will come in a multipack clamshell of five 2-ounce snacks that retails for about $3.99, said Tony Freytag, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Cashmere, Wash.-based Crunch Pak. The flavors are peach-mango, grape, and strawberry vanilla cream.
The target market is back-to-school shoppers. Disney characters appear on the packaging.
“It’s an addition to our Disney brand, which is exclusive to us,” Freytag said. “It certainly reinforces our goal of getting kids to eat more fruits and vegetables.”
Crunch Pak spent almost two years trying to perfect the process for Flavorz.
“Others have tried to be out there with flavors,” he said. “I was never pleased with the overall characteristics. Maybe the flavor was there, but not the texture. Until we got it right, we didn’t do it.”
“It’s all natural ingredients,” he said. “There’s no added sugars. The flavorings are basically the very essence of grape, strawberry, vanilla and peach-mango. We kept the eating characteristics that of apples. There’s no color coating or textural changes.”
Crunch Pak tested Flavorz in schools with a focus group of children ages 4-8. A video of them will play at its United Fresh booth.
“Kids have a way, whether verbally or with their face, of letting you know where they’re coming from,” Freytag said. “There are very few subtleties. Plus, their taste buds are at a different level.”
To perk interest, Crunch Pak is developing scratch-and-sniff stickers to appear on clamshell exteriors. The scent would mimic that of the fruit.
“They have great olfactory results,” Freytag said. “The aroma is very strong. We want that interaction with consumers that gets them to pick up the package.”
The flavoring process is proprietary and designed in-house for Crunch Pak equipment. Flavorz is not related to the company’s 2010 acquisition of Stemilt Growers’ sliced apple business, Freytag said. Stemilt’s AppleSweets line included berry, caramel and apple pie flavorings that were discontinued upon the transition.
“This is a totally different process,” he said.
Flavors are applied post-slice during packaging. Additional flavors could be offered eventually.
“We developed more and took the top three,” Freytag said. “That’s where we’re going for now. The first to make the grade were the ones adults liked while we were testing them with children at the same time.”
Crunch Pak plans to market to adults, too, by promoting use of the peach-mango flavor in salads.
The company is also expanding its Foodles snack line. Foodles will have new labels and new ingredient options including apples with granola and yogurt, and carrots with various sides.
The shipper’s United Fresh booth will also feature Dipperz, Snackers and Crunch Pak carrots, all introduced last year.
Dipperz was named best new product at the National Convenience Show. It’s also a best new fruit product finalist at United Fresh. It comes in four varieties: sweet or tart apples with caramel dip, sweet apples with chocolate dip and baby peeled carrots with ranch dip. Each is 80 or fewer calories. Average retail is $0.99 to $1.29.
The United Fresh convention is May 1-3 in Dallas.