Marking another first for the nation's ketchup king, the H.J. Heinz Company has announced plans for the fall launch of Heinz EZ Squirt, the first ketchup designed especially for kids. Developed in partnership with kids throughout the country, Heinz EZ Squirt helps to transform kids' favorite foods through innovative packaging that provides better control and more fun at mealtime. Tapping into the enormous opportunity associated with America's favorite condiment -- and kids' appetite for it -- Heinz EZ Squirt is expected to increase kids' mealtime fun as well as their trips to the fridge.

As the #1 consumer of ketchup, kids consume more than half of all ketchup in the United States. Squirting ketchup onto everything from burgers to broccoli, kids consume more than five billion ounces of ketchup each year.

Until now, however, kids have not had a ketchup to call their own. Developed with input from more than 1,000 kids, Heinz has given its favorite consumer the final say, relying on their assistance for the product's packaging, dispensing system, name selection and new color choice.

Heinz EZ Squirt features one-of-a-kind packaging innovations that help to make mealtime fun for kids: a new nozzle provides kids with better control and an ultra-thin stream that directs ketchup exactly where kids want it. Whether it's an airplane on a sandwich or flowers on a french fry, Heinz EZ Squirt allows kids to personalize their food in new and exciting ways. The new bottle is also customized with kids' needs in mind, featuring cool curves for smaller hands and easier squeezing. Moms don't miss out either because Heinz EZ Squirt is enriched with Vitamin C, making it the first and only ketchup fortified for children.

Kids want to squirt in style, and Heinz understands how color plays an important part in making food more interesting. To help kids transform their food like never before, Heinz EZ Squirt will also be available in Blastin' Green, a fun, new color aimed at providing children with excitement and variety at mealtime.

"As every parent knows, kids have long used ketchup to personalize their food," said Joe Jimenez, president and CEO, Heinz North America. "Heinz is bringing fun to food with a ketchup that physically and intuitively encourages both control and creativity."

Heinz Gets Pointers From Its Loyal Fans

In consumer research, both moms and kids gave Heinz EZ Squirt enthusiastic reviews. One of the features that captured overwhelming attention was the super-thin stream provided by the new nozzle. Among the key consumer insights was the observation that kids naturally become more creative when using a thinner stream of ketchup.

The bottle itself also received praise for providing greater control. The Heinz EZ Squirt bottle features softer plastic and ergonomic curves to assist kids with easier squeezing and control. The custom-fit curves accommodate kids' instinctive two-handed grip, which, unlike their parents' routine, 'stirs the pot' in a circular motion when squeezing ketchup.

Declaring 'no more ordinary meals,' Heinz EZ Squirt fulfills a pledge to add excitement to kids' favorite foods. New Blastin' Green EZ Squirt ketchup redefines what a condiment can do. When asked for suggestions on how to improve ketchup, new color was among the most frequently mentioned suggestions by children. During interviews with kids, green was consistently cited as one of their favorite colors.

With kids represented in more than 33 million U.S. households, products marketed to this influential consumer make up a $10 billion business for today's retailers. "We gained important, even subtle, insights from kids about their need for control and creativity at mealtime," said Jimenez. "Kids told us how to make eating a better experience, and Heinz EZ Squirt is the solution that lets kids personalize their food."

Fun Means Frequent Visits To The Fridge

Heinz consumer research confirms that this innovation will increase volume within the ketchup category. As the market leader, with steady increases in share growth in recent years, Heinz Ketchup makes up approximately half of the U.S. retail ketchup category. Heinz EZ Squirt will continue to fuel the brand's impressive performance. Quantitative consumer research featuring kids and their moms using EZ Squirt for the first time elicited an exceptionally strong response to the new product: Virtually all kids (ages 6-12) indicated that they will ask their parents to buy Heinz EZ Squirt Ketchup. More than three-quarters of moms responded that they will purchase Heinz EZ Squirt, half of whom expect that it will be in addition to their current ketchup purchase, serving as their children's exclusive ketchup.

The new, ergonomically designed 24-ounce bottle will be available nationally beginning this fall and will retail for approximately $1.79. The U.S. rollout of Heinz EZ Squirt will be accompanied by national advertising and promotional support.

William R. Johnson, president and CEO of the H.J. Heinz Company, called today's announcement "another great example of how Heinz is innovating in all its global categories, adding excitement and choice for the consumer." The past twelve months have included record breaking innovations at Heinz, including product and packaging developments for StarKist pouch tuna, Ore-Ida recipe potatoes packaging, Boston Market frozen entrees, Italian and British baby foods and College Inn Broth. The launch of Heinz EZ Squirt is the latest innovation within the global Ketchup, Condiments and Sauces category, which represents $2.4 billion in sales for the company and a three-year CAGR of seven percent.

With sales of more than $9 billion, H.J. Heinz Company is one of the world's leading marketers of branded foods to supermarkets and away-from-home eating establishments. Its 50 companies operate in approximately 200 countries, offering more than 5,700 varieties. Among the company's famous global brands are Heinz, StarKist, Ore-Ida, Weight Watchers, College Inn, Boston Market, Smart Ones, Budget Gourmet and Bagel Bites.