Hitting retail shelves in September – just in time for back-to-school – three SKUs of Organic Slammers’ crushed superfood snacks in pouches will feature Wellmune – a natural beta glucan derived from baker’s yeast with clinical research demonstrating it strengthens the immune system.
The value-added ingredient joins an already strong deck of nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables and grains to create smoothie blends that offer more of the nutrition parents want than the average applesauce pouch.
For example, the brand’s Awesome pouch blends organic bananas, apples, blueberries, strawberries, beets, acai and amaranth with Wellmune. The Epic option combines organic apples, mangos, bananas, carrots, oranges and vanilla with Wellmune. And finally, the Chill’N flavor adds Wellmune to a combination of organic apples, bananas, blueberries, butternut squash and yumberry.
Two other options – Crush and Burst – omit Wellmune but feature 7 grams of added protein for a different value-added benefit.
The new SKUs also come with a fresh look for the entire line that more clearly communicates the snacks’ benefits and appeals to a slightly older base than the original Slammers’ products.
Immunity is a must-have for school-aged children
While the coronavirus outbreak placed a spotlight on immunity-supporting products, Slammers CEO Jen Carlson said most parents were focused on the benefit before the pandemic because active children are regularly exposed to germs.
“Kids miss school a lot because they are sick and because colds commonly go around schools. So, as parents, you want them to be in optimum health, and immune health really does stand out for me as a parent when I am looking for what benefits a product offers and what value-add I could put in our product,” Carlson said.
She explained that Slammers were originally created as a product that her children would enjoy and that she would feel good about giving them – which is why when she and her sister, who co-created the product, looked for a way to level-up Slammers they did so first by looking through the lens of parents.
“As a parent, I look for nutrition and I feel like this product does everything right with the ingredients. The fruits, the vegetables, the grain – there is a good level of fiber, there is vitamin C and the benefits of all the fruits and vegetables,” and now there is immunity support in three of the SKUs, Carlson said.
While Wellmune is well-known in the industry, it isn’t by mainstream America, so Carlson said Slammers simply calls out immunity support on the front of its pouches. But on the back it talks in more detail about Wellmune by name.
Making pouches ‘cool’ for older children
When Slammers first launched about five years ago, the pouches targeted active children who grew up eating pouched baby and toddler food but who had outgrown the cutesy packaging that is prevalent among this younger set.
To attract them, the packages used a black background reminiscent of a chalkboard but with neon colors, photos of the fruit inside and outlines of children skateboarding, listening to music, dancing or standing on their head.
With the addition of the new SKUs, though, the brand is taking a moment to push up the age group to which the product appeals to include tweens and even older teenagers by streamlining the look. The brand has dropped the images of kids on the pouch, but retained its iconic black background with neon colors and kid-friendly flavor names.
“What we found was that school aged kids actually want to be older. Even though they are not. So, a 6-year-old wants to be 8, and 8-year-old wants to be 10,” Carlson said. So, she explained, the new packaging looks like something older teens would pick – helping it appeal to both young children and tweens.
A shack-out in the pouch segment
Also, when Slammers first launched, the pouch format was still relatively new and being adopted by dozens of brands offering pureed food for children of all ages. But in the past five years, Carlson said, some brands have been discontinued and others abandoned the format when they were unable to standout among the competition.
Slammers, however, remains loyal to the pouch and its retail partners remain loyal to it because its line targets a niche consumer group.
“A couple of years ago it was such a popular packaging medium and then the market became oversaturated, and what you will notice now is that there are brands that are declining – but those mostly focus on toddler,” Carlson said.
“We just had a review with one of our largest retailers and they said they have been delisting some of our competitors, but Slammers is not one of them because we have specified a niche age category that no one else is owning and it is a great product,” she added.
Carlson said she hopes to build on Slammers’ success and the trust it has gained among older children and their parents by soon launching additional products that target the same group.
“I’d like to innovate beyond pouches,” but retain the focus on sports nutrition for children, Carlson said.
Looking forward, Carlson also said she hopes to expand the brand’s distribution in the US, where it already is in more than 7,000 stores.
“There are still 50,000 doors we could go into – specifically the natural channel. We are an organic product, very natural and we are not widely distributed in natural. So, that is a real opportunity for us,” she explained.