People are also keen to monitor the health and safety of products for their children, that could result in a stronger interest in organic foods, the report called The Kids and Tweens Market said.
Meanwhile major food and beverage marketers have agreed to eliminate the marketing of food products that do not reach a certain threshold of nutrition, the report concluded, and companies are more actively involved in creating and marketing healthier food in the kids market.
Author of the study, Bob Brown, told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “The report shows that parents are increasingly concerned about offering kids healthy eating choices and that food marketers are beginning to respond.
“For example, The Kellogg Company has reformulated a number of its cereals to limit the amount of unhealthy ingredients and has launched new products emphasizing healthier ingredients.”
He added that children also have plenty of opportunities to influence the food purchases their parents make.
Based on date from the US Department of Agriculture, Packaged Facts estimates that parents spend a total of $65bn annually on food for kids.
Simmons Kids NCS data also shows that 32 percent of boys and 44 percent of girls in the six to 11-year-old age group go grocery shopping with their parents “most of the time”.
Brown said: “In the US parents increasingly use a ‘team’ approach to family decision-making. It’s possible that this same trend could apply to eating decisions.
“Also, there is a great deal of effort being spent on educational programs in the schools to promote healthy eating, which can lead to kids learning to make their own choices to eat healthier foods.”
Packaged Facts estimates that the population of 3- to 11-year-olds totaled 36.1 million in 2007. This is expected to increase to 37.5 million in 2012, representing cumulative growth of four percent.
The analyst also estimates that three to 11-year-olds have an aggregate income of $19.1b, a figure which is expected to increase to $22bn in 2012.
Meanwhile both children and their parents have become increasingly interested in protecting the environment and “eco-friendly products have begun to take hold in the kids market” as well as healthy foods.
However the interest in organic foods varies by demographic factors. For example, parents living in the Pacific region are much more likely to say they look for organic foods when they shop, as will parents with a household income of $100,000 or more.
In North America efforts have been made by the government and regulators to improve labeling, reformulate products and educate the population about healthy eating to curb the rising numbers of obesity.
The report highlighted a study published in this May in The Journal of the American Medical Association which suggests that child obesity may have reached a plateau. The study compared the results of surveys in 2003-2004 and 2005-2006 and concluded that there was no significant change in the incidence of obesity in children during this period.
According to data from the market research company NPD Group, released in response to indications that childhood obesity figures have leveled off, fruit is now the top snack for children under six, followed by cookies, milk, crackers and juice.
This compared to food journals written by mothers in 1987 which found that cookies were the snack of choice for young children, followed by fruit, milk and juice, NPD said.
NPD believes children aged under 12-years-old will continue to be a crucial consumer segment for manufacturers and retailers.
It highlighted opportunities for snacks manufacturers to improve the nutritional profile of their products while maintaining their appeal to children. For example, now children are more likely to consume fruit rolls, offering scope for innovation, while yogurt and bottled water are also popular.