It’s one of those long sought-after goals within the food industry and among families: How can you get kids to eat and enjoy foods that are good for them?
While perennial kids' favorites will likely remain just that – favorites – the continued focus on health and nutrition in the general marketplace is propelling grocers to make room for better-for-you products geared toward the youngest consumers, including items for the deli, prepared food section and bakery.
To meet growing marketplace demand – which is likely to continue, given documented rising obesity rates among children and the overall emphasis on wellness and prevention – many manufacturers are keeping busy in their R&D departments. As they develop nutritious new products for kids, food scientists are ever mindful of kids’ picky palates. After all, those budding taste buds are the make-or-break point for youth-oriented food and beverage products.
Minneapolis-based Cargill, for example, has devoted a lot of resources in this arena and recently showcased some of its better-for-you products for kids at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual Food Expo in Chicago. Also at the IFT Food Expo, the company announced its new consumer research on parent attitudes and purchase drivers when buying foods and beverages for their children.
According to company information, Cargill’s food scientists have developed more palate-friendly products for young consumers that are made with less sodium, sugar, along with more whole grains, fiber and protein. The R&D experts developed the items in accordance with specific childhood nutrition standards.
Among the new products:
• Turkey sliders, featuring Cargill's Harvest Provisions turkey pot roast on a bun made with Horizon Milling WheatSelect white spring whole-wheat flour, MaizeWise whole-grain corn flour and TransEnd shortening. Each slider provides one meat equivalent, one bread equivalent and half a serving of whole grain.
• Reduced-sodium sausage pizza poppers made with whole grain, are formulated with FlakeSelect potassium chloride, Prolia soy flour and Horizon Milling WheatSelect white spring whole wheat flour. The poppers contain 40 percent less sodium per serving than regular sausage pizza and 22 grams of whole grain.
• Peanut butter spread, featuring Oliggo-Fiber chicory root fiber, is a kid-approved sandwich filling or snack that meets children’s nutrition standards for nut butters and spreads and is a good source of fiber.
• Whole-grain chocolate chip cookies, made with Horizon Milling WheatSelect white spring whole wheat flour, Clear Valley shortening, Safar modified food starch, Truvia stevia leaf extract, Oliggo-Fiber chicory root fiber and Wilbur S833 semisweet chocolate drops, has 10 grams of whole grain per serving.
• Chewy chocolate peanut butter snack bars, comprised of MaizeWise whole grain corn, Oliggo-Fiber chicory root fiber, Wilbur 854 dark protein compound coating and Wilbur B558 gourmet semisweet chocolate drops. Good source of fiber, and made with 11 grams of whole grain and 5 grams of protein per serving.
• Sour tropical punch snack puffs, featuring MaizeWise whole grain corn flour, contains 10 grams of whole grain per serving.
• Apple berry sparkling juice drink, with Truvia stevia leaf extract, is naturally sweetened with no added sugars.
• Reduced-sugar chocolate milk, featuring Truvia stevia leaf extract and Gerkens 10/12 Russet Plus cocoa powder, has 25 percent less sugar than regular chocolate milk.