A range of new products including pasta sauces, juices and crackers is being marketed towards children who claim not to like vegetables by hiding or disguising them, as health campaigns continue to promote the benefits of diets high in fruit and vegetables.
“[This]presents an opportunity to capitalize on the inherent goodness of such content,” it said. “The reluctance of Western children to eat fresh fruit and vegetables entails the industry has an even greater opportunity in marketing products that can help parents get their children to eat them.”
‘Hidden’ fruit or vegetables are often used by manufacturers in conjunction with removing additives and preservatives, as part of what the review said is the “ongoing development” of natural, organic food lines for children. Additive and preservative-free is the largest claim category for children’s food and beverage on Mintel’s Global New Product Database, in tune with an overall trend towards clean-label products.
“These new products are being developed against a backdrop of movement towards generally healthier, more natural and wholesome food and drink for children,” it said.
Hiding fruit and vegetable purees in children’s favorite foods has long been a technique in home-cooking, but the hidden nutrition strategy has gained ground with manufacturers.
Last year, for example, Archer Daniels Midland released VegeFull, a mixture of ground beans for incorporation in bakery items like cookies and pizza crusts. The company marketed its ingredient as a good source of fiber that can also count towards daily targets for fruit and vegetable consumption.
Researchers at the US Agricultural Research Service have also come up with extruded crispy snacks made from legumes, apple and berry fruit bars that the researchers claim stay moist for up to 24 months without preservatives, and low-fat peanut flour for baked goods.
However, despite saying that organic children’s food would continue to grow, Mintel issued a cautionary note in light of current economic conditions.
“Clean label products for children are expected to remain the primary trend in NPD, although the spread of organic children’s food and drink may well be limited in the medium term by the global economic slowdown,” it said.