Frozen bakery products typically do not lend themselves to innovation. Frozen desserts in particular tends to be a relatively staid category, at least in Western Europe, which accounts for 40% of its global value sales. However, one of this year’s most interesting nominees for the innovation award at the SIAL Food Exhibition was a frozen dessert product: a bake-off cookie from the Dutch manufacturer Van der Pol, Wijk en Aalburg, the Netherlands. “Defrost, slice and bake the best cookies with our deep frozen rolls” runs Van der Pol’s advertising pitch, which features “Mummy’s little helper” slicing and vigilantly placing the cookies onto an oven tray ready to be served in 12 minutes. The Dutch bake-off cookies may well inspire bigger bakery players to bring more excitement to the frozen desserts category and increase their margins in mature markets.
Less time, less waste, less mess
Van der Pol homemade cookies have several unique selling points. They create an opportunity for working parents to spend time with their children and engage them in baking their own food without the hassle and effort of preparing it from scratch. While the product is particularly suited for children’s birthday parties and family festivities, it also offers a quick home-made snack when unexpected visitors come. In fact, positioning the product towards younger consumers might be the Van der Pol cookies’ best selling proposition. As we have commented on previously, packaged food that is consumed by children or babies generally performs well, and often better than the broader category it belongs to. In the face of this, the product’s best opportunities lie in markets with a large number of working women and a relatively high proportion of 4-9 year olds in the population, such as Norway, Denmark, Germany and Brazil as well as in countries like Japan, where consumers are seeking products that can be stored over longer periods of time and replicate the café experience more cheaply at home due to more difficult economic conditions.
Positioning in the store
Frozen food in general and frozen bakery and desserts in particular do not enjoy high levels of brand awareness. Being stored in a freezer in a far-off corner of the store, frozen products typically go unnoticed by consumers who are lured by packaging and price rather than the brand itself. While price promotions, in-store advertisements and co-branding with established confectionery manufacturers may help local brands to add value to their products, identifying the right distribution method is perhaps the key determinant of a frozen product’s success. Unusual distribution channels that are frequented by children and parents, including toy stores and children’s apparel stores, may be a good starting point to familiarize potential consumers with the product and catch their attention when they are least prepared to buy it. Another possible display area could be the children/baby sections of supermarkets or hypermarkets. In fact, the British start-up KiddieCubes is trialing its frozen baby food ranges in the freezers placed in the baby section of Asda supermarkets in the UK, which attracts traffic from the product’s main target group.
Van der Pol’s innovation in frozen cookies brings excitement to frozen desserts, a category that has been stagnating in its biggest markets for almost a decade. However, given the product’s current image, limited distribution network and the size and capabilities of the company, it might well be a fad like many other frozen products. Nevertheless, bigger bakery players or ingredient manufacturers could well emulate Van der Pol’s new launch and, with a well-executed distribution strategy and positioning, potentially boost their declining profits in mature markets.
For further insight, please contact Pinar Hosafci, Food Analyst at Euromonitor International, at firstname.lastname@example.org.