The process is slow, but various private and government entities are working together to bring more nutritious snack options to children, Kenfield said.
“Some stuff happening with USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) in schools with double servings in produce and fruit is going to create awareness with kids where these items are available. The kids see similar items in the store. We think that’s going to lead to the acceleration of the adoption of snack produce.”
The development template is already there, and it works, Kenfield said.
“It’s the same thing you saw in early days of precut lettuce,” he said. “The consumers are all about convenience but won’t trade off quality or eating experience for convenience. They won’t fall in love with disappointing snack produce, no matter how healthy they may be.”
He said fruit has a natural lure to kids.
“I think cut fruit’s probably got a bigger opportunity,” he said. “Grapes are eaten as a snack. Fruit in its basic form is far more typical as a snack item. All we’re really doing is advancing the portability of what is already a snack item.”
Items found in institutional or foodservice venues make their way onto retail shelves, and the growth continues, marketers say.
“We have snack packs that include a miniature juice and a selection of fruits all packaged and ready to go,” said Maria Brous, spokeswoman for Publix Super Markets Inc., Lakeland, Fla. “In addition, we carry snack packs of items such as carrots and dipping sauce, and apples and caramel sauce. All convenient items that fit well into any lunchbox.”
Ed Odron, president of Odron Produce Marketing & Consulting, Stockton, Calif., said fresh-cut apples in snack bags have done particularly well at retail.
“Quality is very good and they have figured out how to get some shelf life to the product,” he said. “It’s a great item for the lunch bag and just snacking. Cut and ready, and it tastes good.”
Darvel Kirby, business development director for United Supermarkets LLC, Lubbock, Texas, said the category is faring well in general terms.
“Sales in this category continue to grow, although not with any particular item,” he said.