Heinz food for toddlers

H.J. heinz Company of Canada is looking to expand its share of the baby food market with the launch of a new product aimed at children between one and two years old.Heinz Toddler comprises 10 meal dishes, three desserts and a...

H.J. heinz Company of Canada is looking to expand its share of the baby food market with the launch of a new product aimed at children between one and two years old.

Heinz Toddler comprises 10 meal dishes, three desserts and a cereal.

Included in the meal menu are such dishes as country casserole with chicken, chicken cacciatore and beef Stroganoff. The dessert lineup includes lemon custard with pineapple and rice pudding.

Colleen Tapp, Heinz’s group marketing manager, says that with 60% of working women raising infants under the age of three, the market for convenient and nutritious children’s foods is a healthy one.

Canadian sales of jarred baby foods run at about $110 million annually, according to A.C. Nielsen.

Sales have shown steady growth over the past several years coincident with a birthrate increase that began in the mid-1980s.

Heinz is the market leader in the overall jarred baby food category, with about 80% of the market, followed by Gerber Canada with 20%.

Tapp says the introduction of Toddler is an attempt to increase jarred baby food consumption by children between the ages of one and two.

The toddler market, currently valued at $1.5 million, is a relatively new niche within the baby food category. Historically, jarred baby foods have been targetted at newborns and infants up to one year old.

Tapp describes the taste and texture of the Toddler as somewhere between adult food and baby food, explaining Toddler is chunkier than baby food, but milder in taste than many adult foods.

When dealing with a palate as fickle as that of a one-to-two-year old’s, taste is of particular importance.

Concurrent with the introduction of Toddler, which began shipping in May, Heinz is withdrawing Good ‘n Chunky, a canned baby food line it launched in 1985.

According to Tapp, the taste and texture of Toddler mark an improvement over the Good ‘n Chunky line, which, like Toddler, is aimed at tots between the ages of one and two.

‘We knew that we didn’t have it quite right [with Good 'n Chunky,]‘ she says.

Not only has the taste and texture been improved with the new product, but it will be packaged in jars instead of cans, Tapp says.

Extensive research and focus group studies conducted in 1992 showed mothers perceived children’s jarred food to be more nutritious than that sold in cans, she says.

Heinz Toddler will be supported by a print ad campaign beginning in August.

The ads, created by DDB Needham Worldwide, will run in women’s and parents’ magazines such as Your Baby, Today’s Parent, Chatelaine, Canadian Living and Coup de Pouce.

The campaign will be supported by in-store sampling, couponing and a direct-mail program.

Creative direction was by DDB Needham’s creative director, Kurt Hagan. Art director was Vani Bedirian. Copy writer was Sally Smallwood.

The Heinz Toddler packaging was designed by Spencer Francey Peters and features the Heinz-owned character, Little Daniel, on its label.

Gerber also recently moved into the young children’s market with the launch, last August, of Gerber Graduates.

Graduates is a microwaveable product targetted at children between one and four years old, according to Steven Solarik, Gerber’s marketing manager on baby food.

Solarik says Gerber welcomes the competition from Heinz, explaining the appearance of Toddler is likely to expand the entire young children’s specialty food category.

‘I don’t think [Toddler] will impact our business at all,’ he says.

Solarik says, if anything, the introduction of Toddler will cannibalize Heinz’s existing jarred line-up.

Tapp says Heinz also tested the concept of a microwaveable product and one aimed at a wider age group, but she adds research suggested mothers preferred a jarred product over a microwaveable one, and that the one-to-four age range was too broad.

Solarik says his company is considering repositioning Gerber Graduates for a one-to-three age range.

Heinz’s stronghold on the Canadian baby food market has been aided by its strong emphasis on educating mothers to the nutritional needs of newborns and infants.

The company advertises in ‘Starting Right,’ a booklet distributed through hospitals to mothers with newborns.

It also has provides education through its Baby Club and a 1-800 number.