Lilitz, PA — Rather than seeking foods specific to kids and avoiding perceived “unhealthy” attributes, parents are buying products that appeal to the whole family and purchase items with positive components, such as whole grains and fiber, according to a Cargill, Inc. survey.
With only one-third of parents responding that they often prepare separate adult and kid meals, 81 percent say it's important for the food they purchase to appeal to the entire family. The majority, 89 percent, as their kids to broaden their taste preferences and 69 percent say they urge their kids to try more adult-oriented foods, according to Cargill. The trend was especially popular among millennial parents, suggesting younger parents are moving toward a family approach.
While there is an intent to purchase healthier products in eight of the nine categories Cargill studied — cereal, cookies, crackers, bread/rolls, snack bars, fruit juice/drinks, frozen pizza, ice cream and carbonated soft drinks — parents are unsatisfied with the offerings, presenting a major opportunity gap. Cargill found the biggest opportunity for a healthier product was with cookies, which showed a purchase-intent satisfaction gap of 24 points.
In one-third of the categories, seeking perceived positive nutrients rather than avoiding so-called unhealthy ones was a priority for consumers.
Marketing Research Manager DeeAnn Roullier says: “Pressures on food and beverage companies to formulate more nutritious products for kids are coming from all angles — consumers, NGOs and government as well as many customers’ own internal nutrition targets. These pressures are typically focused on limited nutrients that are perceived to be less healthy especially fat, sodium and sugar, but our research suggests consumers are largely interested in positive nutrition.”
Although more than three-fourths of parents check nutrition information on unfamiliar products, parents are actually less likely than the general population (71 versus 65 percent) to check the nutrition facts panel, according to Cargill. Instead, 65 percent of parents said they observe front-of-pack nutritional information, compared with 55 percent of the general population.