From 0 to 4 million dollars in 12 months: Buckinghamshire firm take slice of global action

As the battle to tackle childhood obesity continues, a successful Buckinghamshire-based food company is discovering a global appetite for its range of Kiddylicious tasty, healthy snacks with help from UK Trade & Investment (UKTI).

During UKTI’s biggest ever Export Week, a major push to encourage firms across the UK to sell overseas, The Kids Food Company Ltd has forecast sales of $4million within the next 12 months and $20m within four years. Their products are now on sale in 1,400 stores across the USA, including Toys R Us, Myers and Brookshire Brothers, alongside, with more retailers and online distributors scheduled to launch in early 2014.

And the firm is now in advance stage discussions to create a new market for healthy toddler snacking in China which could be worth millions.

Over 300 businesses across the South East are expected to take part in events for Export Week, as part of the Government’s ambition to raise the number of UK firms that export from a fifth to a quarter.

A new national campaign, Exporting is GREAT, also starts this week, targeting almost 3 million people with the ambition to generate 3,000 appointments with locally-based UKTI advisers.

Experienced food scientist Sally Preston seized emerging opportunities to produce tasty, healthy fruit snacks for pre-school children, creating Kiddylicious: The first range of fruit snacks to be launched into the baby and toddler category in the UK in 2009.

It was an instant hit, snapped up by health conscious parents in the UK and soon available from every major UK retailer. It now enjoys a market share of 12% of toddler snacking just four years after its launch.

Sally said:

“Snacking is a part of modern life and for growing babies and children, it is vital for their nutrition. Parents want to give their children the best, but they have busy lives. We wanted to design a range that offered parents well-balanced, nutritious, delicious and appealing snacks for those moments when it may not be convenient to offer a piece of fruit. Our apple crisps contain a whole apple, and the same nutrients and health benefits as you would find in an apple. One bag is one of a child’s five a day, so it’s a healthy and convenient way for the child to get the vital nutrition they need.”

With the UK market growing steadily the firm had no plans to export, until a buyer from in Seattle approached them directly in October 2012 Sally said:

“The buyer had noticed someone was selling Kiddylicious snacks on at a heavily inflated price but there was strong consumer interest. She was keen to work with us directly to sell our products across the USA – she even recommended and made initial introductions to three potential distributors who were representing UK brands and knew what she needed.

“The response in the USA has been phenomenal. There is not a retailer in the States that doesn’t like what we are doing.”

The firm worked closely with government export body based in the South East, UKTI, who has helped Kiddylicious develop an export strategy, identify potential distributors and their next target markets.

The firm is now in advance stage discussions to create a new market for healthy toddler snacking in China which could be worth millions.

Sally continued:

“We now have an enormous opportunity in China, having been put in touch with one of the leading online Chinese retailers, Yihaodian, at a UKTI and China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) event.”

Yihaodian was founded by two former directors of Amazon in 2008 and turns over $4.2billion. Kiddylicious has also strong interest from Tesco China as well as several other big retailers.

Sally said:

“China is a fascinating country with a massive population of educated, well-travelled 25-40 year olds who are parents of a single child. They want the best for their precious child and aspire to purchase Western premium brands. They want their children to have the opportunities and enjoy the products which they have seen in the West. They want to buy Western brands.

“We created the market for healthy toddler snacking in the UK and we are now working hard to establish the same in China – we are meeting seven potential distributors in Shanghai in November with UKTIs help and have a planned launch in mid-2014.”

With UKTI’s help the firm are now also in advanced talks with major players in South Korea, Australia, Spain and Scandinavia.

Sally continued:

“Exporting is most definitely worthwhile but it’s absolutely vital to ensure you have a dynamic team around you and creative problem solving partners. I would also say, work with UKTI to open up doors, make introductions and smooth the way.”

Alongside the fruit and vegetable crisps the firm’s range now includes Fruit Wriggles, which is like a sweet but purely made of fruit, and Smoothie Melts, and are in the process of introducing more new, innovative products to the UK and US markets in 2014.

Peter Warren, International Trade Adviser for UKTI said:

“What this innovative firm have done is identified a whole new market for toddler snacking which has tapped into the complete zeitgeist of the current time.

“Healthy food and childhood obesity are never far from the headlines and parents are ever keen to ensure they are doing the right thing by their child.

“By taking the product to new countries now the firm is at the forefront of a new wave of healthy toddler snacking.

“Their tenacious attitude and ambitions seem to know no bounds and they are determined to push on and make the most of their innovative product while the demand is at its peak.

“I would strongly encourage other firms to take this approach, explore overseas markets and use our help – of course as Sally said it is certainly not easy – but the support networks are in place and help is available from UKTI.”

Story links

Export Week

Kids Food Company Ltd


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UKTI South East International trade Team

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Sectors: Food & Drink
Countries: China
Export Action Plan