"We looked at not only the nutritional gaps for kids (from NHANES data), but also what parents want their kids to have more of," Marlena Hidlay, DSM senior marketing manager and early life nutrition segment segment lead for North America, told FoodNavigator-USA at the IFT show in New Orleans last week.
DSM also conducted an online survey of 7,400 mothers with kids aged 4- to 12-years-old across 12 countries and found that nearly half (47%) of respondents said that making sure their child receives enough nutrients is the most important motivation at mealtimes.
When asked about mealtime priorities for their children, 38% of respondents agreed that boosting the amount of fruit and vegetables consumed was important, whereas 25% of parents would like to introduce a variety of different foods into their child’s diet as picky eating seems to be a challenge worldwide with 39% of parents responding that their child is selective about the food they eat.
The survey also found that moms are trying to complement their child’s meals by purchasing fortified food and beverages that support optimal nutrition or opting for dietary supplements to boost vitamins missing from the diet. It discovered that mothers are more likely to purchase fortified foods or beverages if they make the following claims: ‘Has essential vitamins and minerals’, ‘Supports overall health’ and ‘Provides complete nutrition’.
More than three-quarters (77%) of US moms found the claim, 'Essentials vitamins and minerals' appealing for a food product for their 4- to 6-year-old.
Highlighted at the show were two product concepts that can make added general nutrition claims including a 'KIDSTIX' instant powdered juice drink packets fortified with vitamins C, E, and E and sweetened with sucrose, monkfruit extract, and stevia extract) and a snack bar divided into three bite-sized portions for an on-the-go bite or more substantial snack in between meals that contains 8g of protein per serving.
Which other nutrients are top of mind for kids products?
While DSM research showed that parents are trying to take a holistic and balanced approach to their child's diet, there are some specific areas of opportunity within kids nutrition that DSM has identified.
DSM found That parents are particularly concerned with their child's eye health, immune system. and incorporating more Omega-3s into their child's diet. According to a global health concern survey DSM ran in 2017, eye health was ranked as the No. 1 health concern for parents with kids aged 0-5. This finding has a lot to do with the increasing amount of blue light screen time children are getting on electronic devices, which researchers have linked to macular degeneration in vision, explained Hidlay.
"Moms are saying that kids are getting at least 90 minutes of screen time per day even in the youngest demographic, and I think that’s probably a conservative estimate," she said.
According to the same 2017 survey, 33% of parents wanted to ensure good brain development for their kids giving rise to product development with omega-3s such as DHA.
DSM highlighted a kids' TechShield gummies product concept fortified with 10mg of FloraGlo lutein from marigold extract, and 16mg of DSM's life'sDHA in one serving.
"A lot of customers have expressed interest [in TechShield gummies]," Hidlay said. "Today in the adult space there are many lutein supplement products, but in the kids space it’s very niche. We find the format of the gummy actually delivers lutein quite nicely, because it’s a pretty high dosage."
While the omega-3 market in the US is valued at $6bn, many Americans aren't getting enough healthy fats into their diet, especially kids, according to DSM consumer research. Intake of omega-3s tends to be highest in pregnant women (from prenatal vitamins) and breastfeeding mothers who pass on the DHA through the MFGM (milk fat globule membrane) found in every drop of breast milk.
"You start to see around age two, when kids are becoming more picky and they’re eating other types of food, a drop-off [in omega 3s intake]," Hidlay said.
Hidlay added that another opportunity for DHA formulation in kids product will continue to be the dairy segment with fortified milks and drinkable yogurts.