As a result of the global pandemic, health and wellness has taken centre stage and consumers are increasingly focused on getting healthier or staying healthy.
In our research conducted in China, Indonesia and Brazil in early 2021, we asked adults which health benefits they intend to focus on long-term as a result of COVID-19 and the pandemic. Immune health was top of the list with 73% of consumers saying they will focus on it long-term. Respondents also noted that they will focus on mental health (59%), sleep benefits (52%), heart health (51%), and gut health (48%) 1.
The pandemic’s impact on children’s health
But how has the pandemic impacted children’s health? And what are parents and caregivers looking for from manufacturers? A recent study by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) reported that 10% of US parents said their child's diet has declined due to the pandemic as a result of increased snacking, reduced access to fresh food, and unhealthy convenient food choices. However, 31% said their child's nutrition improved during the pandemic due to being at home more, with parents able to monitor their eating habits and provide more home cooked meals. Nutrition value is the most important factor when making choices about food and drink for kids; more important than the child’s taste preference and price. A child’s growth and development and immune system health are the top food and beverage considerations amongst parents and/or caregivers 2.
What is top of mind for parents and caregivers?
From our own global research, we know that 85% of consumers with children under 18 in their household read nutrition labels. This is significantly higher than households without children (74%) 3. When reading nutrition labels, 63% of consumers with children in their household look for calories, followed by total sugars (56%) and vitamins (51%). 47% look at added sugars and 32% look at dietary fibre 3 . With calories, sugar, and immune health being most top of mind among parents and caregivers when making food and drink choices for their children, opportunities exist for manufacturers to make products more nutritious with low/no/added sugar and/or calories and nutrients such as fibre to support gut health, immunity, and help with sugar reduction.
Manufacturers expected to make kids’ food and drink healthier
So, where does the responsibility for children’s nutrition lie? 74% of UK parents who buy drinks for their child say that it is the duty of manufacturers to make children's drinks healthier 4. In Germany, 51% of consumers agree there aren't enough healthy packaged snacks available for kids 5. Innovation in the marketplace over the past five years in food and drink products, specifically for children, demonstrates how manufacturers are strengthening health credentials with added benefits and nutrients. Globally, children’s food and drink launches with no added sugar or low/no/reduced sugar claims grew the most in nutritional drinks (+55%), cold cereal (+26%), sweet biscuits/cookies (+20%), and spoonable yogurt (+8%). Globally, children’s food and drink launches that contain fibre grew the most in milk drinks (+21%), processed cheese (+16%), plant-based drinks (+9%), nutritional drinks (+7%) 6 .
As parents and caregivers increase their focus on the health and wellbeing of their children, manufacturers have the opportunity to drive innovation so that parents and caregivers have more nutritious options to choose from. This presents opportunities for manufacturers to respond with sugar reduced and fibre fortified innovation.
1 T&L Proprietary Research, 2021, China, Indonesia, Brazil
2 International Food Information Council, Knowledge, Understanding and Behaviors When Feeding Young Children: Insights from U.S. Parents and Caregivers, March 2021
3 T&L Proprietary Research, 2017/2020/2021, 17 markets globally, % read almost always/sometimes
4 Mintel, Juice for kids: a health future?, November 2021
5 Mintel, Kids snacks need to catch up on gut heath, July 2021
6 Mintel GNPD, CAGR 2016-2021