- A survey of 1,001 parents with children from birth to 24 months found 53% are very confident they are feeding their child an age-appropriate, nutritious diet, while another 44% are at least somewhat confident.
- The International Food Information Council Foundation survey said that despite this confidence, some parents were concerned or confused about feeding young children. For example, 55% said choking hazards are a major concern when introducing babies to solid foods, with 38% had reservations about the potential for allergic reactions. One in five said a major concern is which foods to introduce, and 24% said the time to introduce foods is a worry. A third of parents with infants under six months old expressed such concerns.
- Parents also closely weigh advantages and disadvantages of what they feed their children, the survey noted. They rated the most nutritious foods as pureed green beans (25%), milk (22%) and yogurt (18%.) Cheese led the list (34%) of foods considered least healthy. Still, parents saw advantages in feeding kids less healthy foods such as cheese.
It's no mystery that millennials and young consumers concerned about nutrition would pass on those values to the their children as they start families.
The International Food Information Council Foundation found young parents said their diets improved once they had kids, and trends show millennials are more likely than older consumers to buy and consume vegetables. In terms of feeding their children, parents are concerned about babies and toddlers consuming enough vegetables and protein, and exposing them to new foods. But more than a third also are worried about offering foods their child enjoys, and around 15% are concerned about convenience, suggesting food companies shouldn’t drop these priorities when creating products for children two and under.
“Consistent with what we have seen over many surveys about the foods adults consume, taste remains a top factor over our food choices,” said Alexandra Lewin-Zwerdling, vice president of research and partnerships at the IFICF, in a news release. “Fortunately, our other findings bear out that nutrition is also quite important when it comes to what we feed our youngest children.”
Still, other studies show that while parents recognize the importance of feeding kids a healthy diet, many say time and the cost of healthier fare often gets in the way. This is particularly noticeable as children get older and it becomes easier for parents to turn to fast food or sugary products that kids may prefer at meal time. This suggests CPG companies would be wise to stress the lower cost and convenience of frozen veggies and healthy meals through grocery displays, on packaging, in social media and through traditional mailers and coupons.
A study by sales and marketing agency Acosta found last fall that 26% of U.S. consumers are shopping the frozen foods department more frequently than they did in 2016. B&G Foods, for example, has seen rapid growth in its Green Giant frozen selections, driven by the popularity of new vegetable-based products like Veggie Tots and Mashed Cauliflower. Food companies hoping to cater to busy, but health conscious, young parents would do well to follow suit.
Food companies should be aware that some millennial parents are willing to create their own healthier products for their kids if they can't find it on the market. Rethink Brands, a boxed water company, launched the Rethink Kids Water brand last year. The water was developed by CEO Matt Swanson and his team when they couldn’t find anything suitable for their young children. It is sold in more than 11,000 stores, including Walmart, Target and Kroger, according to the company, and comes in four flavors.
The IFICF study shows parents want their children to eat healthy, but they have questions about how it should be done. They also are not afraid to factor in taste and convenience when deciding what to feed themselves and their children. Food companies hoping to capture this market could consider creating and marketing such products for young families – like organic mac and cheese for kids or on-the-go fruit snacks – to be successful.