Stock up for the Back to School rush

Three children eating their lunch sandwicheshttp://

As the kids go back to school, independent retailers can stock up with a selection of lunchbox food, plus stationery and other items.

August will see the summer holidays drawing to an end and the beginning of the Back to School period.

Besides new uniforms and stationery, parents also need to think about what they will put into their kids’ lunchboxes.

This includes the more traditional categories such as bread, sandwich fillings, snacks, crisps, drinks and desserts, but also newer products like fromage frais and cereal bars.

Retailers can be prepared for the Back to School season by merchandising these categories to parents.

Choosing the perfect at-school lunch for children can be a tough decision for parents. They’re looking for high quality, nutritious snacks that are also tasty and fun to ensure that all of the lunchbox contents have been eaten by the end of the school day.

This provides the perfect opportunity for healthy, tasty packaged snacks.

“Yogurt in particular is a great way for parents to ensure kids get their recommended amount of protein and calcium – all of which are vital for growing bones,” comments Rosanne McDonnell, Brand Manager of Yoplait Kids. “What’s more, Yoplait Kids yogurts are good source of vitamin D, which maintains healthy bones, muscles and teeth.”

Yoplait has a range of suitable lunchbox yogurts, including Frubes Easy-to-Open tubes and Petits Filous Mess-Free bottle. With no artificial flavours or colours, they offer a tasty yet nutritious treat.

“Multipacks are the best format for the lunchbox shopper mission, especially those that include a variety of flavours so that children don’t get bored during the school week,” says McDonnell.

Frubes is available in packs of nine tubes, in a variety of flavours, including Strawberry, Red Berries, Banana and Peach. While Petits Filous come in a handy four pack that fit easily into the fridge.

“It’s also important to stock lunchbox-friendly formats that enable children to enjoy a tasty lunch without the food spoiling, or creating a lot of mess,” adds McDonnell.


“It’s important that retailers stock a wide range of products to tap into the lunchbox occasion all year round, but particularly towards the end of the summer when parents will be getting ready for the new school term,” comments Susan Nash, Trade Communications Manager at Mondelēz International. “Convenience shoppers will be looking for easy-to-pick-up formats which they can add to packed lunches or as part of a meal deal.”

Brands like Dairylea, belVita and Joy Fills are perfectly placed to tap into the demand for individually wrapped formats for the lunchbox occasion across various product categories. These formats aid consumers with portion control and are ideal for picking up on-the-go.

Cheese bought as a snack or to eat on-the-go is worth £500M in sales (Nielsen). In fact, nine out of ten households buy snacking cheese each year and, on average, purchase at least once a month (Kantar). On-the-go cheese snacks, spreads and cheese slices are ideal components for sandwiches and lunchbox snacks so it’s important for retailers to offer shoppers a snacking cheese option to meet their needs.

Kids Snacks is also a fast-growing category, and accounts for the largest share of the Processed Cheese category at 31% (Nielsen). The Dairylea brand has unveiled a range of innovation over the past year to help retailers tap into this significant demand as parents look for kids snacks on-the-go or for their lunchboxes.

Dairylea Snackers launched in 2018, combining savoury cheese with a sweet treat to fuel kids during the day and tide them over until the next meal. The brand is building on this success in 2019 with the recent launch of a new Snackers variant, Dairylea Snackers with Cadbury Giant Buttons. The new packs are available now and contain Dairylea cheese slices and crackers, with Cadbury Giant Buttons to create a sweet and savoury snack. They will also be available in price-marked packs to help independent retailers drive value perception and shopper loyalty – the first Snackers pack to be available in PMP.

Dairylea is also growing the Snacking Kits segment with a new Streetfood sub-brand for its Lunchables range. Combining Dairylea with mini pizza bases and tangy pizza sauce, Dairylea Lunchables Streetfood Pizza are available in 65g packs now.

New Dairylea Dunkers Cheesy Cones have also launched in packs of 4x 40g. Each portion is less than 100kcal, reflecting the growing consumer focus on health and balance. The Dairylea Dunkers range is growing at 7%5 and the new launch taps into consumer desire for new and exciting range options to help retailers drive sales in the category.

Finally, Dairylea is also aiming to get families out of their comfort zone this summer through an on-pack campaign to help drive cheese sales for retailers. The ‘We Dareylea You!’ campaign will see Dairylea triangles, spreads and slices packs rebranded as ‘Dareylea’ throughout the summer. Supported by a £1.3M campaign, these special packs will include a series of cheesy dares that aim to encourage families across Britain to get out and about and undertake a series of fun challenges.


Having first hit shelves last summer, Cadbury Joyfills has recently extended its range with the launch of two smaller 75g packs – the perfect snack for the lunchbox occasion. The new small packs are endorsed by two power brands: Oreo and Cadbury. Joyfills Oreo Vanilla Creme are sweet crispy wheat pillows with cocoa and vanilla soft filling, while Joyfills Cadbury Milk Chocolate Creme feature the same crispy pillows filled with a milk chocolate soft centre.

“With increasingly busy lifestyles and an always-on mindset, consumers are looking for convenient, bite-sized treats that deliver a delicious taste, but won’t weigh them down,” says Nash. “These new small packs from Joyfills are one of the ways retailers can offer their shoppers just that – ideal for lunchboxes and eating on-the-go. Retailers should position the new packs in secondary sites to attract impulse lunchbox and on-the-go purchases, as well as at the main biscuit fixture.”

As well as the focus on convenience and on-the-go within biscuits and snacking, consumers are increasingly concerned with their wellbeing. 85% of consumers claim they are trying to improve some of their diet to become healthier (IGD) and almost 1 in every 3 food items10 are now chosen for health (Kantar). When it comes to snacks, 46% of occasions are chosen for health (Kantar) (growing at +8%) – so retailers should ensure their lunchbox snacks range includes some lighter options.

Savoury biscuits are by their very nature more permissible, so consumers are looking for exciting tastes, new textures and light options in this area. Ritz Original cracker, the number one best-selling savoury biscuit (Nielsen), and Ritz Original Breaks have a new recipe with 70% less saturated fat.

belVita’s latest launches are also helping retailers tap into the demand for healthier on-the-go biscuits.

The brand has powered up taste and quality credentials in its innovation, packaging and communication. Launched in June, belVita Seeds and Berries comes in two flavours with Raspberry & Chia Seeds and Blueberry and Flax Seeds; available in six-pack boxes with three biscuits per pack – making them the ideal choice for shoppers stocking up for the week ahead. belVita has also launched its first ever reduced sugar variant – belVita Chocolate Chip with 30% less sugar – to give consumers that much-loved chocolate taste with a lower sugar content.

Permissible options

Burton’s Biscuit Co. is advising retailers to stock up on biscuit portion packs to maximise sales around the key back to school/lunchbox occasion.

With school lunchbox content coming under increased scrutiny from health experts and the Government, along with the introduction of PHE guidelines for children to consume just 2 snacks under 100 calories a day, shopper demand for more permissible options for lunchboxes continues to grow.

Burton’s, the No.1 manufacturer in the £62.3m Kids Minis Biscuits market (Kantar) is leading the way in portion-controlled biscuits, offering the strongest ‘less than 100 calories per serve’ range in the UK’s £3 billion biscuits category.

“Biscuit Portion Packs are outperforming the total market, with the number of children consuming biscuits as part of a carried-out lunch increasing by +32% year on year. This highlights the opportunity to provide biscuits and snacks that are convenient and permissible, whilst still a delicious treat,” says Isabel Lydall, Category & Insights Controller at Burton’s Biscuit Company.

“Many of our best-selling brands such as Jammie Dodgers and Maryland Cookies are available in mini bite size or individual portions, making them perfect for lunchboxes or an after-school snack as part of a balanced diet.”

Burton’s recently introduced a range of snack bars, expanding its existing portion packs range, including Maryland Oaty Cookie Bars, individually wrapped chocolate chip cookie bars high in fibre and wholegrain oats.

Tapping into trends

URBAN eat is introducing new recipes and flavours, including new Street Food and Deli ranges which aim to capitalise on the latest food trends and broaden its appeal in a variety of channels. Ahead of the relaunch, URBAN eat conducted extensive consumer research and benchmarking to ensure the new range met the needs of modern consumers.

There are now four distinct ranges. URBAN eat Core – all the URBAN eat favourites and classic flavours, plus a new premium range and a CQUIN-compliant light range to cater for those looking for healthy options under 400 calories. The range also includes more salads than ever before to accommodate growing demand and a range of vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and halal products.

URBAN eat Deli is a broad mix of coffee shop-inspired hot and cold deli products, tapping into café culture. Products include classic toasties and paninis, new additions such as the Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese Bagel and a range of hot boxes in addition to cold eat sandwiches and salads.

A new collection of innovative and flavoursome products, URBAN eat Street is inspired by the latest food trends, including Bacon naan, Vegan Bean Burrito and Mozzarella & Tomato topped Flatbread.

URBAN eat Roots is a range of vegetarian and vegan sandwiches and wraps with punchy flavours and quirky names – all approved by the Vegetarian society and benchmarked to make them tastier than ever.

“In order to keep customers on board, food to go suppliers will have to continue to innovate, drawing in new customers with exciting new trend-led flavours and products, comments Wayne Greensmith, Head of Category Marketing at Adelie Foods. “Particularly over the last year the biggest trends in NPD have been pretty varied. We’ve seen more and more snack pots and high protein products, as well as flavour influences from Japanese, Latin American and South East Asian cuisines.”

In addition to the new flavours are entering the food to go market, the one movement that has taken over above all is veganism. With the total value of the UK plant-based market at £443m, demand for meat-free food increased by 987% in 2017 and going vegan was predicted to be the biggest food trend in 2018.

URBAN eat’s research into customer shopping habits confirms that customers are dissuaded from purchasing low-end cheaper food to go products.

“Consumers are willing to pay more for a product that delivers on taste and quality, from a brand they know they can trust, and we know that that a 99p sandwich is a huge turn off – particularly in convenience,” adds Greensmith.

The company’s research and trials have proved that a meal deal between £3.50 and £4 really works with customers willing to pay more for a quality sandwich and selection of options. Retailers need to make the shopper journey as straightforward and as easy as possible.


According to Kantar, there are over 500 million lunchbox occasions in the UK.

KWP data reveals 30% of lunchbox occasions consumer by children. Mintel stats show 26% of lunchboxes contain crisps, popcorn, nuts or baked snacks.

“The frequency of lunchbox occasions is growing as more adults are becoming savvier with their spending and taking the extra time to pre-plan their daytime meals,” comments Matt Collins, Trading Director at KP Snacks.

People are more conscious than ever of the snacks they are purchasing which is reflected in the growth of the ‘healthy segment’ of the market (growing at +10.4% (Mintel), ahead of the overall CSN category).

One in five adults lunchboxes and two in five kids’ lunchboxes contain a bagged snack with 12% and 19% (respectively) opting for a bag of crisps – still a more popular choice ahead of other savoury snacks (Kantar).

“At KP Snacks we believe that snacks can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle,” adds Collins. “Retailers are giving more range space for lighter alternatives to meet this need, and we’ve been a significant part in this change.”

As well as reducing saturated fat and sodium levels by as much as 80% across our core range KP has also virtually removed all artificial colours, added flavour enhancers, artificial sweeteners and artificial colours. The KP Snacks portfolio includes 29 products that are 100 calories or fewer per pack including lunchbox favourites POM-BEAR, Hula Hoops and Skips, popchips and Space Raiders.

In 2018 KP launched Hula Hoop Puft which is one of the lowest calorie snacks on the market (called out on the front of pack). Available in Salted, Salt & Vinegar, Cheese and Sweet Chilli, they have a light and crispy texture but incorporates the classic hoops shape.

KP’s best-selling lunchbox line is POM-BEAR. Consumed by 5.4 million families per year (Kantar), it’s gluten free and contains fewer than 100 calories per pack. “Household names like POM-BEAR play an important role in the segment as they are able to provide parents with the reassurance that they are providing their children with a healthy option but still delivering a great tasting product,” says Collins.

This year, KP Snacks is running a number of promotions including supporting POM-Bear with a £1m spend across OOH, social media, digital channels and in-store activation.


STAEDTLER’s Back to School range for 2019 comprises new product innovations alongside educational classics such as the Noris school pencil, Mars plastic eraser, colouring pencils and pigment liners.

New for 2019 is an extended Pastel Line collection to take advantage of the massive demand for all things pastel which currently shows no signs of abating. Attractively presented in colour co-ordinated packaging, the range comprises blacklead and coloured pencils, rulers and erasers in four subtle pastel shades and white plus, for the first time, triplus and Textsurfer highlighters in pastel colours. Also on offer for the BTS period is a complete, pastel-themed stationery set comprising all key products.

STAEDTLER’s new Comic range is a high-impact collection of basic school stationery designed to motivate children to embrace writing and drawing. The vibrant range uses brightly coloured, comic-style graphics to add fun to stock BTS items. For maximum impact in-store, an eye-catching counter-top display unit featuring the same graphics is available free of charge when the recommended stock order is placed.

Also new for 2019 is Design Journey, a complete range of art materials for all drawing, sketching, colouring and lettering tasks. In inspirational packaging to encourage budding artists to experiment and try new techniques, the products feature authentic application images to motivate students to begin or continue their artistic journey.

To encourage store visits and attract attention in-store, STAEDTLER is providing colourful point-of-sale material including window stickers, posters and wobblers, in addition to dedicated counter-top and freestanding display units.

STAEDTLER’s annual advertising campaign to support its BTS range is taking an intriguing new angle for 2019. Details of the campaign are being kept firmly under wraps but the company promises a quirky, thought-provoking and high-impact approach, highlighting a number of current issues and resonating with the brand’s core values.


Going back to school is just one of the many moments that Kleenex can help families be ready for, with pocket packs an ideal school bag accompaniment to ensure they are ready for whatever the day brings, brand owner Kimberly-Clark said in a statement. However, independent retailers should account for the full range of families’ needs throughout the year by stocking boxes and pocket packs together, not just at seasonal moments.

Whilst retailers call out tissues and their benefits at fixture and around store during peak seasons, by connecting with shoppers emotionally and getting them to think about all the different year-round usage occasions, independents can encourage consumers to purchase tissues in preparation rather than just in the moment of need.

If retailers can appeal to this 70% of other usage occasions, such as the unexpectedly dribbly noses, make-up mishaps or messy hands after eating on the go, then retailers can drive even greater category value, both in Back to School season and beyond, and even beat multiples.