Parents are up in arms in response to George Osborne’s rumoured move to scrap free school meals to infant school pupils in the November spending review, but the likes of Babybel, Mini Cheddars and Petits Filous could well be breathing a sigh of relief.

Kids lunchbox occasions – which these brands are closely tied to – fell drastically (28.6%) following the implementation of the scheme by former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, with 4.3 million five to seven-year-olds becoming eligible for free school meals in September.

Their removal has the potential to force this trend into reverse – opening up a huge opportunity for grocery suppliers to fill the gap for nutritious and well-balanced meals for kids.

But brands and retailers have to tread carefully. After all, the war on sugar is raging and schools aren’t above sending in the lunchbox police to investigate what’s hiding in your little darling’s prized Frozen or Star Wars (or in my case, Spice Girls) lunchbox.

Crisps, chocolate and biscuits are among the most illicit of treats but even those long considered healthy – such as juice, yoghurt and some fruit snacks – are coming under scrutiny owing to their sugar content. This means brands have to be savvy about what they are pitching to the lunchbox market and how.

Some may require a complete overhaul of ranges, recipes or a hefty bout of NPD to make this work, offering up a great opportunity to reinvent a brand. For others, it’s simply a case of positioning – joining forces with a popular character or repositioning as a snack or lunch accompaniment.

Getting it right can open up a wealth of opportunities. Mini Cheddars, for example, highlight the fact they are baked, not fried, meaning they’re seen as a healthier alternative to some crisps. As a result, they have seen sales rise 8.5% by value, according to our 2015 Britain’s Biggest Brands. Meanwhile, Coca-Cola Enterprises’ Oasis and Capri-Sun drinks have added nearly £15m in sales between them.

Some have even taken it one step further, garnering schools’ approval for their products, such as JuiceBurst, which claims its ‘schools-approved’ range is now worth over £2m.

Parent approval is also key. Not only do brands need to tick the health box, but being quick to prepare is just as important. When I was at school, Dairylea Lunchables did this brilliantly – they were cool for kids but also provided a huge win for parents by being ready-to-go. In time, I could see a bold brand take this one step further and create an entire lunch pack that can simply be slipped into a rucksack, ready for the day ahead.

All in all, there should be plenty of tasty opportunities for brands as we gear up to the November spending review.