Brand licensing deals rise post-pandemic as consumers seek familiar and healthier products

8 Apr 2022

Longer-term brand licensing deals between food companies have become more popular in recent times – a trend set to continue and flourish, partly thanks to the pandemic, licensing experts told Ingredients Network.

Despite playing a major role in the activities of other sectors – including pharmaceuticals and media – brand licensing deals were once largely limited to short-term buzz-creating arrangements in food. For instance, co-marketing deals for the launch of a new film would often see characters brandished on the packaging of consumer packaged goods (CPG).

Brand licensing deals rise post-pandemic as consumers seek familiar and healthier products

Yet, in the last few years, experts have marked an uptick in the number of more involved, longer-term agreements between food companies, including deals for access to "iconic flavour profiles that will communicate the trusted flavour of the product," Jeff Lotman, CEO of worldwide brands licensing agency Global Icons told Ingredients Network.

He gave the example of his own company's client, Hostess Brands which has signed a succession of such deals, including; a January 2022 licensing agreement with Danone for Twinkies flavoured International Delight Coffee Creamers; a 2020 deal with Trilliant Food & Nutrition for Hostess product-inspired ready-to-drink iced lattes; a 2018 agreement with Post Consumer Brands for cereals based on Hostess' Donettes, HoneyBuns and Twinkies brands; and a deal with Jel Sert in for Twinkies and Ding Dong dessert kits.

For Hostess, "many more deals have been executed that will be in the market late 2022 and early 2023," Lotman revealed.

Other big name companies striking licensing deals include Mondelez and Oreo, Cinnabon with a host of flavour-profile mash-ups – including with Pillsbury and Keurig K-Cups coffee – and cereal brands including General Mills with Betty Crocker.

Pandemic-driven leap

The rise of food brand licensing has taken a significant leap since the start of the pandemic, Steven Ekstract, managing director at New York-headquartered licensing consultancy, Global Licensing Advisors, told Ingredients Network.

"During difficult times, consumers gravitate towards known, trusted, and loved brands," he said.

"As a result of two years of sheltering in place and working from home, food consumption in the home has increased exponentially and brands are selling more food and beverages through creating new products utilizing licensing."

Ekstract said that many fast-food restaurant chains have expanded into licensing in the grocery aisle, including Taco Bell, which licensed an entire product range from seasonings, to taco shells and snacks.

"The visibility it provides for the Taco Bell brand to be in the grocery aisle is like free advertising that Taco bell is getting royalties for, and it provides delight to the consumer who may have avoided going out to eat during the pandemic," he added.

Even pre-pandemic, restaurant brands were taking on more brand licensing deals, jumping from less than 10 in the space 15 years ago to more than 50 today, said Lotman, "and it continues to grow".

"Many restaurant brands are eager to meet consumers for their eating occasions," he said. "Consumers are not making a choice at the grocery store on whether they are going to eat at a restaurant or buy a frozen appetizer, pizza or entrée. They are filling their freezers.

"Eating out at a restaurant is a different eating occasion. Also, restaurants can use their licensing program as a marketing tool to drive traffic to their stores which more than likely are franchised."

Related categories

Related tags

Blogs Market News

Related news

‘Dangerously high’ levels of fat, salt and sugar in 70% of UK’s ‘meal deal’ snacks

‘Dangerously high’ levels of fat, salt and sugar in 70% of UK’s ‘meal deal’ snacks

5 Apr 2022

Around 70% of the snacks included in UK ‘meal deals’ are dangerously high in fat, salt and sugar, according to new research by Action on Salt.

Read more 
Fermentation-derived betalain food colours could replace 70% of natural and synthetic options

Fermentation-derived betalain food colours could replace 70% of natural and synthetic options

31 Mar 2022

Phytolon’s precision fermentation-derived betalain colours “can replace 70% of the natural and synthetic” options once their full potential is exploited, the Israel-based start-up’s co-founder and CEO, Halim Jubran, told Ingredients Network.

Read more 
CJ CheilJedang capitalises on Korean culture boom with new European StartLife partnership

CJ CheilJedang capitalises on Korean culture boom with new European StartLife partnership

17 Mar 2022

Seizing on growing demand for Korean cultural exports including “Squid Game, kimchi and Korean barbeque,” Korean food and bio company CJ CheilJedang has partnered Europe’s agrifoodtech accelerator StartLife to expand the worldwide presence of Korean fo...

Read more 
Snacking's zeitgeist: nostalgia and childhood memories

Snacking's zeitgeist: nostalgia and childhood memories

2 Mar 2022

Snack time has become any time. Although the trend toward eating mini-meals has been growing over the last several years, the pandemic accelerated this transformation. Now 64% of consumers say they prefer snacking to consuming traditional meals, with 8...

Read more 
Can sugar-reducing tech revive falling fruit juice sales?

Can sugar-reducing tech revive falling fruit juice sales?

12 Feb 2022

Better Juice’s naturally sugar-reduced fruit juice will hit US supermarket shelves in spring 2022 thanks to a partnership with GEA. Could this turn around the long-term decline in fruit juice sales?

Read more 
High-fat diets fuel interest in pili nuts

High-fat diets fuel interest in pili nuts

24 Jan 2022

The popularity of high-fat diets, such as the paleo and ketogenic diet, is fuelling consumer interest in novel sources of healthy fats, such as pili nuts.

Read more 
What do Europeans really want from plant-based foods?

What do Europeans really want from plant-based foods?

17 Jan 2022

Familiar ingredients, more product choice and lower prices are just some of the attributes European consumers are looking for in plant-based foods, according to the findings of a recent ProVeg consumer survey.

Read more 
UN lauds ‘significant’ COP26 progress for agri-food sector but did it go far enough?

UN lauds ‘significant’ COP26 progress for agri-food sector but did it go far enough?

19 Nov 2021

UN Climate Change says ‘significant progress’ in making the farming sector more climate-resistant and climate-respectful was made at COP26 – but critics have slammed the absence of technologies such as cell-cultured meat from the sustainability agenda.

Read more 
Natural ingredients for a true-blue hue

Natural ingredients for a true-blue hue

21 Oct 2021

Blue-coloured food and drink are trending in China but so is a demand for natural, clean label products. So, what natural ingredient options do manufacturers have?

Read more 
Tracking oat milk’s stellar US success

Tracking oat milk’s stellar US success

18 Oct 2021

Although almond is still the number one plant-based milk in the US, oat milk is hot on its heels thanks to ingredient innovation, high profile brand launches, and a diverse category that includes both affordable and premium-positioned products.

Read more