Children represent a high potential market for food manufacturers. Although many kids are picky-eaters who are keen on trendy foods with appealing packaging or marketing messages, they do have specific nutritional needs to help development and learning.
For food manufacturers aiming at this niche, it is a challenge to develop products that children want to eat, and parents and carers are prepared to buy.
At the same time, childhood obesity is a pressing concern as some 55 per cent of boys and 70 per cent of girls are predicted to be overweight or obese by 2050. The food industry has been roundly criticised for marketing of products that are high in salt, sugar and saturated fat, and are of questionable nutritional value, to children.
Even though some manufacturers have pledged more responsible marketing for products intended for youngsters, some campaigners believe more action is called for – and even regulation.
The conference, organised by FoodNavigator’s sister publication Food Manufacture, is scheduled for 9th March 2010 at America Square Conference Centre in London. It is intended for anyone involved in the product development process, including NPD managers, food technologists, marketing managers, R&D managers, nutritionalists and regulatory experts.
Speakers include Jeya Henry, professor of human nutrition at Oxford Brookes University, who will talk about the science of children’s nutritional needs.
Tesco’s company nutritionalist Karen Tonks will tackle the balance between reducing artificial additives and sugar, salt and fat, and adding in more nutrients. Meanwhile Chris Brockman, market research manager for Leatherhead Food Research, will talk about the hard business of developing children’s foods.
Miranda Watson, social policy campaign manager at Which? will look at the problems areas in children’s diets – and what parents actually want to buy.
The schedule also includes two manufacturer case studies, a look at school dinners, and insights from research into children’s sensory experience.
More information on the conference is available here.