General Mills, Nickelodeon To Market Healthy Foods To Kids

General Mills will use couponing and public relations to support its new national deal with Nickelodeon to license the latter's characters on packages of frozen and canned vegetables and fresh grapes, which will be sold nationwide beginning in late summer.

General Mills' Green Giant recently showcased the new Nickelodeon SKUs for the first time at the Food Marketing Institute Show held in Chicago. The first products to arrive at retail will be 19-ounce bags of low-fat frozen vegetable blends in sauces that appeal to kids palates at 45-60 calories per serving.

The blends include green beans as well as broccoli and corn. The packaging features the iconic Green Giant as well as SpongeBob SquarePants on green beans, and top preschool properties Dora the Explorer and Diego from "Go, Diego, Go!" on broccoli and corn.

The packaging also includes collectible stickers featuring the Nick characters, enabling parents to reward kids for eating their vegetables. Later in 2007, Green Giant will also begin to distribute canned corn and green beans that feature the characters on-pack.

Nickelodeon began licensing its most popular characters to be used on packages of fruits and vegetables in 2005 to help encourage healthier diet and lifestyle choices for kids and parents. Since then, the company has extended the initiative over the last three years to include many of its most popular characters on spinach, carrots, darling clementines, cherries, apples, pears, peaches, plums, nectarines, raisins and organic edamame.

According to a recent Nickelodeon study, kids are more likely to ask for fruits and veggies in the supermarket today than in 1998. Among kids 6-14, 38% of kids ask for fruits and vegetables in the supermarket today, up from seven years ago where it was only 6% of kids.

Starting this month, Pandol Bros., Inc. will begin to distribute SpongeBob SquarePants branded packages of Mexican-harvested grapes to major grocery stores and warehouse clubs nationwide. United States-grown SpongeBob SquarePants packages of seedless grapes will begin to ship in July when they come into season. Pandol has also acquired the rights to produce "Dora the Explorer"- and "Go, Diego, Go!"- branded products.

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