Natural Foods Merchandiser

Parents seek authentic snacks

Parents aren't necessarily looking to pack Omega-3s in their kids' lunchboxes, according to a new survey. Instead, they’re searching for foods that are simply good for their kids, according to a report by Just Kid Inc., a "kids only" strategy, research and innovation firm based in Norwalk, Conn.

The company conducted a 30-minute online survey among more than 3,600 moms of kids 2 to 14 years old. The nationally representative sample included more than 700 African American moms and more than 700 Hispanic moms. Not surprisingly, 86 percent of the parents surveyed ranked "healthy and nutritious" as the most important characteristics of an ideal food. More interesting was the survey participants' preferences about what type of healthy ingredients they sought.

The survey found that moms were not as interested in sophisticated ingredients as they were in some basic, simple benefits like "fresh" and "balanced nutrition." They gave mid-level ratings to some traditionally important nutrients, like calcium and protein, while they rated more trendy nutrients like Omega-3s and choline at the bottom of their priority list. "At the end of the day, moms are seeking a more authentic form of health, linked closely to the food," said Amy Henry, managing director of research and strategy for Just Kid. "Ten years ago, moms prioritized convenience and kid fun," said Henry. "Today, moms are looking for more authentically healthy and enjoyable food—and are looking to make kids appreciate eating, not just the packaging or promotions surrounding their foods."

Colin Sankey, CEO of Snikiddy, a Boulder, Colo.-based manufacturerof natural kids' foods, agrees. "What parents are looking for today are simple, wholesome and great-tasting products for their families. Yes, added nutritional benefits are certainly still valued by these consumers, but they need to make sense based on ingredient uses."

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