Lunchable Goes Lower-Cal: Is Adding Fruit Enough for the Kid Classic?

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Maybe that long-ago partnership with Taco Bell wasn’t the best image-enhancer for Kraft Foods’ Lunchables brand. Now, Kraft is spending millions of dollars creating new varieties and convincing parents they’re a healthy option.

Already over a decade old, the kid-friendly packaged lunch has definitely undergone some tweaks in its time. But the latest nod away from the “Maxed Out” caloric glutton and toward a kinder, friendlier fruit-filled version is just in time to hit spring and summer picnic baskets.

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With a $20 million advertising campaign to back the Dole-fruit filled packs, Advertising Age says this is Kraft’s largest marketing campaign ever for the brand, which offers 36 different options once the “Lunchables with Fruit” option is added in. Advertising Age says Kraft plans a New York media blitz on Times Square with every digital video billboard plugging Lunchables sometime in May. The main draw of the new line is the mandarin oranges and pineapple bits paired with differing sandwich options.

With the brand already dominating its market, Kraft must be looking for a new niche to break into. And with the health food movement fertile ground in the pre-packaged world, swapping out the cookies and pepperoni pizza for the fruit is a slick marketing strategy.

Of course, Lunchables won’t come without detractors, saying the 280 to 440 calories in each of the Dole-filled options is still too high, especially with the eight to 12 grams of fat. And the list of chemicals and sugar ingredients outweighs the convenience benefit. Of course, Lunchable nutrition facts seem like a bed of lettuce compared to that former Taco Bell partnership.

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