The functional beverage category has primarily catered to adult consumers, and kids had been largely unaddressed by the segment, noted Katrina Graves, senior brand manager, Ocean Spray.
"We're really excited to bring a product with functional health benefits that are particularly relevant to kids and their parents," Graves told FoodNavigator-USA.
Ocean Spray's Growing Goodness line of four SKUs, which is sold nationwide at major retailers, contains 9g of sugar (from fruit juice) per 6.75-ounce Tetra Pak box and added nutrients for immune health (130% DV of vitamin C and 10% DV of zinc) and digestive health (3g of fiber per juice box from soluble corn fiber).
Sugar content: What are parents looking for?
While conversations around the sugar content of various products geared towards kids have been front and center for parents, Graves explained that the "no-added sugar" carries a lot of weight among many parents of young kids who are looking for a balance rather than total elimination of sugar from their families' diets.
"We have half the sugar of the leading kids juice beverages and no added sugar... For that consumer target, that’s what we’re looking for in terms of sugar content," said Graves.
"We have actually talked to some pediatricians and dieticians [about sugar content in kids food and beverage products] and what they’re seeing is that they’re shifting away from this notion of 'bad foods' particularly with kids," Graves said.
"We don’t want to demonize any sort of ingredients, it’s about that balance and healthy eating habits."
'Cranberry can be a polarizing flavor for children'
So how is the product resonating in the marketplace?
"What has been really exciting is that both parents and children alike have loved Growing Goodness. We have really strong repeat rates, really strong user reviews online, which means you’re doing something right if both the parents and kids are enjoying the product," noted Graves.
Graves added that initial concerns around whether kids would enjoy the flavor of cranberry were quickly dispelled by consumer feedback.
"There has been a historical concept that cranberry can be a polarizing flavor for children, but what we’re finding is parents are saying, ‘My child loves this. They can’t get enough. And I’m actually surprised,'" she said.
Targeting a younger generation
Despite nationwide availability at major retailers and direct-to-consumer channels, Growing Goodness is still a relatively new brand to parents and families in the kids' beverage segment.
"This is a whole new segment for us, which is really exciting. We so firmly believe in the power of the cranberry, and it’s health benefits and this is our opportunity to introduce it to the youngest consumers out there and help them build an affinity with our brand," said Graves.
FOOD FOR KIDS 2021
Interested in the developments in the early childhood nutrition market and kids snacking category? Then don’t miss our FOOD FOR KIDS interactive online series, taking place November 10 + 17, 2021. Register your interest to stay current with event updates including speaker announcements and when registration opens!