A global consumer study commissioned by natural colour manufacturer GNT found that 82% of parents place great value on natural food and drinks as a means of providing their children with a balanced diet. This figure compared to 67% of respondents from households without children.
The survey, in which TNS canvassed the views of 5,000 consumers in ten countries worldwide, including 2,400 parents, showed that 70% of parents are eschewing synthetic additives when buying foods for their children.
Topping the list of ‘nasties’ parents seek to avoid are preservatives, artificial colours and sweeteners - over 60% of parents said it was either ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ important to them to that products they were buying did not contain these ingredients. At the same time, they named ‘with natural flavours’ and ‘with natural colours’ as two of the most important criteria when selecting products for their children.
All of these characteristics are considered to be more important than a product being ‘low fat’, ‘low sugar’, ‘organic’ or containing ‘no added sugar’, according to the research.
GNT said the study demonstrated that artificial additives have a significant influence on the purchase decisions of parents, and that parents wish to buy natural food and drinks for their children.
“In recent years, the food and beverage industry has been facing an increasingly critical consumer attitude towards artificial food additives. This trend is well known. But what surprised us is how equally the desire for more natural nutrition is pronounced across different regions and product categories, and how strongly this influences shopping behaviour and brand preferences,”Guido de Jager, marketing manager at GNT, told FoodNavigator.
As an example, he said that even in categories perceived as ‘unnatural’, such as soft drinks or confectionery, 30% of consumers said they would buy these products more often if they were made from natural ingredients. He suggested GNT’s colouring foods, which are extracted from edible fruits, vegetables and plants using physical methods, could help food producers meet the requirements of this target group.
Market analyst concurs
Adding credence to the theory, Alan Rownan, ethical labels analyst at Euromonitor International, said: “It’s no secret that a lot of parents care more about the diet of their children than their own…There has never been such an intense focus on packaging claims, and with global leaders showing a willingness to address the growing concerns of consumers, the proportion of ‘no artificial’ and ‘natural’ products is likely to grow significantly over the coming years. The call for healthier alternatives for children will be a key component in this drive for simpler labelling.”
He noted that the trend was already well established in the UK, where a host of products are carrying ‘no artificial’ claims, and pointed out that such claims aren’t limited to any one category
“We’re seeing a wide spread of claims, across everything from bakery and breakfast bars to dairy and ready meals. Manufacturers are recognising that it isn’t just about addressing categories which are perceived as low hanging fruit, such as confectionery and soft drinks.”