- Tyson Foods has entered the kids snacking segment with the launch of Hillshire Farm Snacked. The snack packs each contain a meat — pepperoni, salami or turkey — as well as a cheese. Some contain a dessert such as cookies, brownies or confetti cake, or pretzels. The packs are designed for "kids on-the-go,” school lunchboxes or snack time at home, according to the company.
- The packs are advertised as a better-for-you option compared to other kids snacks, and contain 8 to 10 grams of protein per serving and are "a good source of calcium," the labels state. Tyson has also positioned Snacked to have adult appeal, thanks to Hillshire Farm's meat products.
- Tyson's entry into the kids snacking segment capitalizes on a growing market of packaged meal options that has been dominated by one brand — Kraft Heinz’s Lunchables — since its debut in the late '80s.
This is not Tyson’s first foray into snacking, with a variety of meat products already in its portfolio such as Any'tizers chicken appetizers and Jimmy Dean Breakfast Nuggets. In 2016, the company launched Hillshire Farm Snacking Small Plates, which contain meat, cheese and crackers. According to the company, it has been the most popular adult snack pack on the market since 2018.
But the pre-packaged kids snacking segment is new territory for the meat giant. According to Hillshire Farm spokesperson Michael Fanelli, the category is valued at $1 billion, which he said gave the company a window to make "a versatile snack that could be incorporated into lunch." The U.S. kids food and beverage segment is estimated at $28.2 billion, according to Research and Markets.
Kraft Heinz’s Lunchables, some of which contain Oscar Mayer meat products like ham and bologna, have had a grip on the refrigerated kids snack market for decades. The line has expanded to include beverages, pizza options, and even a Brunchables breakfast variety. The product has been in such high demand during the pandemic that Kraft Heinz has had issues keeping it stocked.
Tyson says it aimed to offer foods in its Hillshire Snacked packs that were not available in many other kids snacks, such as pepperoni and confetti cake. (Kraft Heinz also offers a Pizza with Pepperoni Lunchables variety). Fanelli said through research the company learned that parents wanted a snack product to feed their children that wasn’t too "kid"-like and contained "flavors they loved and high-quality products."
The non-meat components of the Hillshire Snacked packs are sourced from "various longstanding and trusted suppliers," according to Tyson.
Tyson said it learned from earlier snack launches and market testing that it had an opportunity to "connect with a new consumer" by creating an on-the-go kids snack with "trusted" ingredients. The focus on the snack packs' nutritional profile makes sense at a time when parents are increasingly concerned about what their children eat. A recent International Food Information Council study found that parents are focusing more on their kids’ nutritional needs since the pandemic, with 31% saying that their kids’ nutrition improved due to eating at home more.