Kids’ Health: 10 Trends to Know Now

Keeping kids healthy is the priority for parents, and in these times, main concerns and goals have shifted. What are they looking for now to help deliver peace of mind?

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“A key consumer insight is that parents will generally do their utmost to keep their children healthy, happy, and on the path to a successful life,” says Tom Druke, Marketing Director at Balchem Corporation. “While kids may be attracted to colorful packaging and recognizable cartoon characters, moms are balancing these impulses against the need to provide their kids with the best nutrition.”

Expanding on that, Adam Sutter, Quality Director at ChildLife Essentials, says, “Parents want to know that what they’re feeding their child provides not only net-positive nutritional value, but is also a pleasant taste experience that children will enjoy,” agrees.

To this end, WholeFoods asked the experts to share their consumer research regarding what parents are focusing on these days—and how to address their concerns.

1. Convenience. “In the past few months, parents have been thrown into juggling homeschooling, childcare, and working-from-home responsibilities,” says Kate Geagan, Nutritionist for the Earth’s Best brand. “As a result, home cooking, snacking, comfort foods, and convenience are top trends right now. Earth’s Best brand was founded by two dads over 35 years ago, and we have always kept families at the heart of our commitment to premium, yet affordable, options that are convenient for busy families. We have convenient options that make organic, quick meals and snacks easy for multitasking parents, using ingredients they can feel good about.”

2. Immune and digestive health. “Parents are increasingly looking for products with functional benefits, in particular for immune health and digestive health,” says John Quilter, VP and GM at Kerry. “Keeping kids well is always going to be a top concern, not just for their own wellbeing but for that of the whole family, which is one of the reasons immune system support is the most common reason for consumers to buy healthy lifestyle products.” He noted that immune health ingredient Wellmune has been clinically shown to support the immune systems of growing children, and the company’s probiotic, GanedenBC30, is backed by research demonstrating benefits for kids’ digestive and immune health.

Consumer research from Beneo backs this trend. “According to BENEO Consumer Research on Functional Carbs in the U.S. 2019, 76% of respondents said that promoting immune health plays an ‘important’ or ‘very important’ role in purchase decisions when buying food for their children,” said Jon Peters, President of Beneo. And that was before the pandemic. These days, there’s an even higher focus on health: “According to the International Food Information Council’s 2020 Food & Health Survey,” Peters continues, “85% of Americans have made at least some change in the food they eat or how they prepare it because of the coronavirus pandemic.” Beneo can help in this area: The company’s chicory root fibers have been shown to increase beneficial bifidobacterial in the gut, even during antibiotic treatment.

Happy Family Organics has also noted this trend. To this end, the company has launched Happy Tot Super Bellies, “a line of organic fruit & veggie puree pouches that include functional ingredients like prebiotic fiber and beta-glucan to support the immune system and digestive health,” Regina Fechter, VP of Innovation & Business Development, says. “Our product development research shows that 48% of moms are seeking out added functional ingredients in their food, and 40% are giving their toddler a pre- or probiotic as a separate supplement.”

Chris D. Meletis, Naturopathic Physician with Trace Minerals Research, agrees that supplements can be beneficial, but says food should come first. “In my clinical practice, parents are asking what they can do to support their kid’s immune systems and stress levels. My go-to list for pediatrics is to ensure they are taking vitamins C and D, a good probiotic, and a good multivitamin with adequate minerals, including zinc. As I always share, ‘you supplement a good diet and lifestyle, but you can’t substitute a supplement for a poor diet and lifestyle.’ I have my pediatric patients learn early on the concept that as they are growing taller, stronger, and smarter, their cells are being made of the food that they are consuming, which lends itself to the old adage ‘you are what you eat.’ Do they want the trillions of cells in their body made of junk food or made with healthy structural integrity?”

Also speaking to needed nutrients: “The ‘sunshine vitamin’ used to be the one that parents rarely had to worry about kids getting enough of,” says Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA, Senior Nutrition Education Manager at NOW, “but thanks to television, video games, and mobile devices, our children are spending less time outside than ever before. Since much of our body’s production of vitamin D is through skin exposure to the sun’s UV rays, this is a major concern. Vitamin D is necessary for optimal structural development and normal immune system function.” Levin notes that vitamin C, zinc, and probiotics are all vital for healthy immune and digestive function. If a parent feels that their child isn’t getting enough of these nutrients through the diet, keeping chewable or liquid supplements on hand may take a weight off a parent’s mind. NOW is on hand with BerryDophilus, sweetened with xylitol and designed to support both digestive and immune health; chewable and liquid options for vitamin D3; chewable vitamin C; and Elderberry Liquid for Kids, which combines elderberry concentrate with zinc and astragalus to promote seasonal wellness.

And moving away from food and supplements, parents may look for nasal rinses. “Xlear was invented to wash the upper airway and keep it clean,” says Nathan Jones, Owner of Xlear. “Parents should be concerned about the overall [oral] microbiome health of their children. Making sure they are maintaining good oral hygiene, brushing, rinsing, etc., twice a day, and using xylitol to keep the mouth and the airway hydrated and healthy.”

3. Personalization. “Our research shows that parents are looking for products that are tailored to their child’s individual needs and made for specific ages and stages of development,” says Fechter. “Moms and Dads want to provide their babies and toddlers with balanced nutrition during this amazing time of growth, and it’s our job at Happy Family Organics to make it easier by providing nutritious and convenient options.” Happy Family Organics provides targeted nutrition including Fiber & Protein, Love My Veggies, Super Smart with choline and DHA, Super Morning, and Super Foods. The company also offers organic toddler bowls that contain a full serving of veggies. “Toddlers are picky eaters,” Fechter continues, “and most don’t eat enough nutrient-dense food to support their development. Even worse, the ‘vegetable’ American toddlers are most likely to eat is a French fry, and nearly 30% don’t consume any vegetables daily, and only 12% eat dark greens. So our team is committed to bringing even more delicious products with veggies to the market in the coming year!”

4. Cognitive health. “Cognitive function is at the forefront of what parents are looking for,” says Thomas Li, Business Development Manager at IFF Health, representing Frutarom, part of the IFF family. “According to the USDA, 85% of children are not getting nutrients for optimal brain development, which is absolutely critical during the early years. This is mainly due to changes in the modern diet. As an example, we can look at phosphatidylserine (PS), an important phospholipid in the brain. It is estimated that there has been almost a 50% drop in the amount of PS consumed since the 1980s. This ingredient has been proven to support many long-term cognitive benefits such as memory, focus, and learning, which go well into adulthood. IFF Health has various grades in our Sharp PS line, such as soy and sunflower versions. They have been incorporated into applications ranging from gummies to dairy powders as another versatile option for functional foods.”

This is particularly important in the time of COVID, notes Dr. Meletis. “More than ever, parents are concerned about the health of their kids’ brains, both emotionally and academically. Even as adults, the COVID historical events and loss have hit our psyche hard. Our kids are trying to process the blitz of news combined with lack of academic and social routine leading to stress.” This, Dr. Meletis notes, also leads to weakened immune health.

5. Sugar reduction. “Another major trend in children’s food and nutrition is the drive for sugar reduction,” says Quilter, “which has damaged the reputation of categories previously perceived as healthy, such as juices. An increasingly effective strategy to offset parental concerns about high sugar content is to incorporate functional ingredients.”

Fechter agreed. “We believe in limiting the added sugar—and salt—in baby and toddler foods. The typical American child eats about three times the recommended amount of added sugar per day. We launched the first line of Happy Tot Super Foods bars and bowls with 0g added sugar. We also created a Happy Kid line of fruit & oat bars and purees with no added sugar.”

Beneo, too, has research to this effect: “79% of respondents noted that sugar is an important consideration” when purchasing food, said Peters. Beneo’s chicory root fibers can replace sugar in foods, while increasing fiber intake.

Gluten-Free Tips

Parents with children who have to eat gluten-free face extra challenges—particularly for kids with celiac, “even miniscule amounts of gluten may be problematic for those with celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities,” according to Lola O’Rourke, MS, RDN, Education Coordinator with the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG).

For a start, O’Rourke says, “parents should provide [gluten-free children] with naturally gluten-free healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, gluten-free whole grains, dairy and non-dairy alternatives, lean meats, beans, and fish. For packaged foods, the safest approach is to choose products that are certified gluten-free by a reputable and trustworthy source.” There are also special cases, like oats. “Oats are in a unique category because, although they are naturally gluten-free, they’re often grown and processed in close proximity to gluten-containing grains, so they’re at a higher risk for cross-contact. We recommend people only consumer certified gluten-free oats. They should be eaten only after consultation with the individual’s personal healthcare team, as some people with gluten intolerance may have sensitivity to oats.” GIG certifies more than 60,000 products.

Gluten-free safety doesn’t start and end with the food parents purchase, however. “For mixed households, with some family members consuming gluten and others not, it’s important to pay attention to avoiding the cross-contact of gluten-free foods with gluten containing food,” O’Rourke explains. “We suggest segregating pantry shelves and segregating your refrigerator generally. In pantries, it’s a good idea to put gluten-free products above gluten-containing products in case any crumbs fall. For packaged foods like condiments we recommend using either squeeze bottles or having separate jars labelled for gluten-free use and non-gluten-free use.” This sidesteps the danger of, for instance, using a knife to spread peanut butter on gluten-containing bread, during which the knife may transfer gluten from the bread to the peanut butter.

Other considerations: Many cosmetic products contain gluten—and it can be harder to tell in cosmetics than in food. To this end, GIG’s certification arm, the Gluten Free Certification Organization, has certified topical products and sunblock, so parents can worry about other things. And GFCO’s standards are strict, O’Rourke says: “We’re one of the only, if not the only, certification program that reviews every ingredient in every product certified. Our standards go beyond the requirements of the FDA, as every ingredient in products must meet a threshold of 10 parts per million (ppm) or less of gluten. The FDA requirement is 20 ppm.”

O’Rourke also pointed to a temporary rule implemented in response to COVID: “Due to COVID-19 causing supply issues for food manufacturers, the FDA had temporarily allowed manufacturers to make minor substitutions in packaged food ingredients without having to update ingredient lists to reflect these changes, so long as the substitute does ‘not cause any adverse health effect.’ Even under this temporary rule, GFCO-certified products cannot be changed without a review from GFCO, demonstrating the program’s strict standards.” While it isn’t every year we have a pandemic—and while that rule was temporary—parents may still want the comfort of knowing that the products their children love will be safe regardless.

6. Blue light damage. “One of the things we’re hearing from a lot of parents—and we know from our own roles as parents—is that blue light damage from excessive screen time is now on people’s radar,” says Ola Lessard, VP Marketing & Communications at Barlean’s. “This is particularly an issue since kids are at home and indoors much more right now. That said, even before the pandemic, this was a concern because many schools are now integrating laptops, smart phones, and tablets into the classroom.” Barlean’s is addressing the problem, Lessard says, with “a line of really yummy, emulsified kids’ Omega-3 products called Omega Pals. The Hooty Fruity Tangerine flavor also includes Lutemax 2020, an ingredient clinically studied for its ability to protect eyes against damage caused by blue light. So not only does this product deliver Omega-3 nutrition to support eye health, but the addition of Lutemax 2020 makes it a home run for young eyes. And bonus, it’s also super delicious.”

Colleen Higgins, Marketing Coordinator at Carlson, seconded that. “Today, kids are depending on their electronic devices for both learning and entertainment. Children and teens spend anywhere from five to nine hours daily on their devices.” Carlson’s solution also involves Lutemax 2020—“it provides lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin,” Higgins explains. “These are three carotenoids that serve as powerful antioxidants and are clinically proven to support eye health by filtering high-energy blue light from digital devices and indoor/outdoor light.” Carlson offers the ingredient in gummy form.

Bluebonnet, too, targets this sector. Their Targeted Choice Eye Care AREDS2 vegetable capsules are formulated according to the AREDS2 study, along with hyaluronic acid, for clinically backed eye protection.

7. Transparency. “In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, brand preferences and shopping behaviors have been completely upended,” says Courtney Nichols Gould, Co-Founder/Co-CEO of SmartyPants Vitamins. “Parents are looking more and more for brands that are trustworthy and transparent. These are two things that we’ve been committed to since our founding; however, and especially in light of such extraordinary circumstances, we’re seeing a more pressing need than ever before to get this information to consumers much faster. By doing so, we believe, it helps to build more deep-rooted relationships with shoppers.”

Happy Family Organics is also innovating in this area. “Millennial and Gen Z parents want to know what’s in this food and where it comes from,” Fechter notes. “We launched our Clearly Crafted line of organic see-through pouches and glass jars. We share the recipe story on-pack, and parents can visit HappyFarms.com to see where our ingredients come from.”

8. Efficacy. “Parents want to ensure that whatever they give their children not only helps them develop, but will actually work, especially in areas where deficiency is common,” says Li. “The key is to find well-established, well-studied ingredients.” IFF Health uses relevant ingredients that are already well-studied, Li says, and they follow that up with additional clinical backing of their own.

Perhaps one of the most important factors in whether or not a product will work is bioavailability. Li’s example: “Iron deficiency can impair a child’s ability to function well, and most symptoms of deficiency don’t appear until they reach anemia. Of course, iron toxicity is also a health concern, so how does a parent try to ensure a healthy balance? The important part is the intake of highly bioavailable iron so that the benefits are taken in. AB-Fortis is not only clinically shown to be highly bioavailable, but the lack of metallic taste and side effects make it ideal for functional applications. This is especially important for children who are more willing to consume healthy functional foods than pills.”

Balchem’s Druke provided information on this topic, particularly with regards to minerals. His tip: Get chelated minerals. “Most minerals found in the food supplement market are in an inorganic form (oxides, carbonates, sulfates, etc.) which are poorly absorbed by our bodies. If you take a supplement in these forms, your body may be excreting them with minimal absorption and thus little benefit. In nature, the most highly bioavailable forms of minerals are packaged in proteins to protect them from interactions in your gastrointestinal tract which inhibit both tolerance and absorption.” In supplement form, Druke says, the best option is to mimic that organic molecule. “These special organic forms of mineral elements are known as mineral amino acid chelates. The human body is very efficient at absorbing individual amino acids. For instance, the amino acid glycine is readily absorbed across the intestinal wall. When the glycine ‘grabs’ and bonds with a magnesium molecule, this results in a compound called magnesium glycinate. The chelated magnesium doesn’t break down in the digestive process, but instead is easily absorbed because it gets carried into your cells, because it is bound to the amino acid. Balchem’s line of Albion branded chelates are often used in supplements to provide complete organic mineral nutrition, which gives our bodies the best chance to absorb them for our best biological advantage.”

Chelates also, Druke continues, preempt several other factors in determining the bioavailability of a mineral supplement. “Factors like pH and ionization have influence on the absorption of minerals and their final bioavailability in the circulatory system. Chelated minerals don’t need ionization and are not pH dependent, which results in an improved absorption and higher bioavailability.”

9. Organic, clean, and safe skincare. “With the current pandemic, parents want to reduce exposure to disease, so cleanliness and sanitary conditions are paramount,” explains Lafe T. Larson, CEO and Founder of Lafe’s. But, he adds, 70% of what goes on the body, goes in the body—not to mention the worry that a germ-free environment will lead to superbugs. “The new Lafe’s Baby and Kids line is made using certified organic botanicals that provide both health and cleanliness features, but do not create the chemical antiseptic environment that may lead to superbugs,” Larson says. “Certified organic means that no toxic chemicals are being put on the skin, and seven of the nine products in our Baby and Kids line meet the USDA certified organic seal requirement, the highest organic standard available today.”

Earth Mama Organics, too, makes a point of going organic. According to their site, it’s also important to be NSF/ANSI 305 Certified by Oregon Tilth—Melinda Olson, Founder and CEO of Earth Mama, has told WholeFoods in the past that the certification is considered a best practice for personal care products by the Organic Trade Associations. It’s the answer, she said, to the National Organic Program food standard—not all personal care ingredients can meet food standards, but NSF/ANSI 305 ensures that they’re held to the same level of safety. Earth Mama makes products for the whole baby journey—from mamas (pre-, during-, and post-pregnancy) to babies to kids. The company offers everything from teas to sunscreen, all organic, NSF/ANSI 305 certified, and absolutely safe for kids.

10. Kid-approved! Products might be parent-approved—but they have to be kid-approved, too. This may be most important when it comes to food. Lola O’Rourke, MS, RDN, Education Coordinator at the Gluten Intolerance Group, notes that “Parents want to get foods that combine healthy ingredients into comfort foods. For example, there are gluten-free garbanzo bean-based pastas that offer the comfort and familiarity of pasta with the nutrition that beans offer. Some are even being cut into animal shapes to make it fun for younger children.”

“Parents want to know that what they’re feeding their child provides not only net-positive nutritional value, but is also a pleasant taste experience that children will enjoy,” agrees Adam Sutter, Quality Director at ChildLife Essentials.

For the same reason, Arthur Andrew Medical sells Syntol Kids, a berry-flavored probiotic that dissolves instantly for easy administration. Their website calls the probiotic “great-tasting”—that way, giving kids the support they need doesn’t have to be difficult.

Earth’s Best’s Geagan suggests that there are additional ways of getting kids into what they eat. “In terms of merchandising, how can we leverage trusted voices that kids love, such as Sesame Street, to point families in the right direction? Imagine a collaboration between a retailer, brand, and Sesame Street that met the moment—it could be a powerful way to reach families most at-risk in COVID-19. This could be about food safety, stretching food dollars, encouraging nutrient-rich food options such as a smoothie, or more.”

Educating Kids

Parents can’t oversee their kids every second of every day—and eventually, those kids are going to grow up. Educating kids is an important way to ensure that, even when parents aren’t there, the kids will stay healthy. “I encourage my kid patients to learn that not all food is created equal,” says Trace Minerals’ Dr. Chris Meletis. “They become familiar with the ‘Dirty Dozen Foods’ and the ‘Clean 15.’ Of course, not all families have the financial capacity to always choose organic or free range, yet when opportunity does present itself, I want them to know what the best choice is.”

Dr. Meletis adds that education goes beyond food—“Even my young patients know that they should not be warming up food in plastic in the microwave or when possible not to drink out of phthalate plastic water bottles. Life is the culmination of total choices, so informed decisions—especially as our youth enter their teens and become more autonomous—is important. This includes avoiding skincare and soap products that contain parabens, etc., that can act as hormone disruptors.”

And for kid-friendly education regarding fruits and vegetables, head to www.paulibroccoli.com for videos, books, and educational blogs about healthy eating. As a plus, the videos are on YouTube—meeting kids where they very often already are.

Safe for kids…

“We’re seeing a heightened interest around things like food safety—for instance, avoiding takeout, or washing produce,” says Geagan. “And overall, families are making fewer trips to the grocery store, and turning more to online shopping to meet their needs.” Earth’s Best ensures the safety of their products through rigorous standards for their organic-grown crops, Geagan says, only using ingredients that meet their requirements for transparency and quality.

Gould describes the steps SmartyPants takes to ensure safety: “All our products are third-party lab tested. We test every batch for residual solvents, pesticides, heavy metals to California’s Prop 65 limits, gluten, and microbiological contaminants. Because as a company we’re committed to being as transparent as possible, we make each batch’s Certificate of Compliance available on our website, so consumers know that the products they are buying are safe and effective. We ensure that all our products are top 8 allergen-free certified. All of our products are also non-GMO, and many carry the coveted Non-GMO Project Certification.”

NOW, too, goes to great lengths to ensure safety. “Our products are consistently tested to ensure the absence of potentially harmful levels of heavy metal contaminants, as well as potential microbial contaminants. Our fish oils are additionally tested for oxidation and environmental contaminants. We also perform pesticide testing to screen botanical products to assure that they also meet our strict safety specifications.”

Fechter says that Happy Family Organics uses an “Enlightened Nutrition” approach: “We work closely with a team of children’s health experts, including pediatricians and dietitians, to leverage the latest nutritional trends and scientific research to inform our product innovation.” The company’s “obsession,” as Fechter calls it, with nutrition and safety carries over into the supply chain: “Not only do we look at the entire process to ensure standards are met, but we work relentlessly to taste, test, and thoroughly analyze every single batch of food before it’s released into the market.”

Going above and beyond is the standard at ChildLife as well. “All ChildLife Essentials products undergo triple testing, including full lot testing on all raw materials and double full lot testing on all finished product, thereby ensuring the most rigorous standards for release,” says Sutter. “All efforts are made to provide supply chain transparency and integrity, and the finished product testing protocol goes far above and beyond that required by the current regulatory framework.”

Communicating this can be useful. Kerry’s John Quilter says: “Last year, we surveyed over 11,000 consumers in 14 different countries, and nearly four in 10 said that seeing claims based on research or scientific data would make them more likely to buy a healthy lifestyle product. This figure rose to above half in some regions, with 51% of consumers in Brazil and Thailand considering seeing claims based on research or scientific data a top purchase driver.”

…And for the environment

“We believe that the health of our planet affects the long-term health of our children,” says Fechter. “We are committed to reducing the climate impact of our operations by pioneering sustainable agriculture practices, collaborating with our suppliers to reduce energy and food waste and transforming our packaging to advance the circular economy.”

“Packaging remains a major source of our environmental impact,” agrees Gould. “SmartyPants is committed to finding new solutions to this challenge. By the end of 2020, our entire product line will be made of post-consumer recycled material. Our bottles will be between 80 to 100% post-consumer recycled resin, including our lids, and labels will be made from at least 30% post-consumer waste. We ensure all packaging meets FDA food grade requirements, while still using PCR to reduce plastic in the environment.”

For Xlear, keeping things safe for kids and the environment is all one strategy. “The xylitol we use comes from non-GMO corn cobs… which, if the cob wasn’t going to be used for xylitol, would just pile up,” explains Jones. “So we are taking the waste products and making something very beneficial for people out of that waste.”

On the supplier side, too, sustainability needs to be part of the business’ daily operations. “We are committed to the IFF vision around sustainability,” says Li. “We have various manufacturing processes that are eco-green, utilizing less solvent and resulting in minimal waste, in addition to also providing benefits to the consumer. For example, several of our ingredients go through our proprietary EFLA HyperPure process, which eliminates a lot of the unwanted contaminants to create a cleaner finished product.”

Beneo, too, makes sustainability part of the way the company operates. “Working with agricultural products, sustainability and environmental concerns are part of Beneo’s DNA,” says Peters. “Not only does Beneo make sure that raw materials are farmed in a sustainable manner, production processes are continuously optimized. With investments in forward-looking technologies, foresighted planning of production sites, and careful maintenance, Beneo has managed to continuously improve energy efficiency, reducing energy consumption by 50% over the past 30 years.”

Keep an eye, too, on ingredients associated with climate impact. Fish oil, for instance, can be a dangerous proposition; parents don’t want to purchase a brand that gets their fish oil via overfishing. Make sure you buy from companies like Carlson—Colleen Higgins notes that “We source only the highest quality, deep-dwelling cold-water fish using traditional, sustainable methods”—or like Barlean’s—Lessard says that “Our fish oil-based products, like the Omega Pals kids’ line, use only sustainably-sourced fish from clean, cold waters. This ensures that we’re protecting our customers by offering quality products, and protecting our oceans and the fish populations we use.”

Merchandising Tips 

“In this moment of COVID-19, when families are struggling to shop affordably and quickly, with an unprecedented need to find foods that are both nutritious AND convenient, helping them make that journey successfully is the greatest way that retailers and brands can step up to this moment,” says Earth’s Best’s Geagan. Her advice: “Share tips from health and nutrition experts so parents can have confidence in their choices—i.e., look on the Earth’s Best website for frozen meal ideas you’ll love from a nutritionist. And point customers towards affordable or shelf-stable options that still meet dietary guidance. For instance, baby food jars and puree pouches offer shelf-stable fruits and veggies, while being easy to order online and lasting a long time if families have to quarantine.”

“We encourage retailers to group the aisle by age/segment, so that parents can easily shop by item type—such as pouches, jars, and snacks,” says Happy Family Organics’ Regina Fechter. “Stores can also create a separate section for toddlers that highlights the unique nutritional solutions that brands are providing. Many parents will leave the aisle before their toddler turns two, so we need to showcase the nutritional solutions that they will want to come back for. We also think there’s a huge opportunity to showcase healthier kid’s snacking. We encourage retailers to place our kid’s bars in the snack aisle of the store, as we know many kids are shopping with mom or dad and helping to pick out their own snacks.”

Other suggestions for retailers come from Karyn McCarthy, VP Sales & Marketing at ChildLife Essentials—“Educate your in-store team about each brand and its strengths. Especially in these days of e-commerce, consumers want to understand supplements better, and if you have well-trained staff, they will come back!”

Looking at the supplier end, it’s important to create a product that’s easy to merchandise. IFF’s Thomas Li suggests a specific, focused message. “For Sharp PS, this may mean ‘concentration’ or ‘memory’ as examples, rather than a general message around cognitive health that seems to be all-encompassing.”

Kerry’s John Quilter advises that formulators should use ingredients that consumers trust and recognize: “Research suggests that willingness to pay more for a product containing a sought-after ingredient is particularly high when it comes to children. In our global survey last year, 81% of U.S. respondents said they agreed that the immune health claims made for Wellmune were believable. Among those respondents stating they would be likely to buy a product containing it, many also said they would be willing to pay more for it—particularly in product categories for children. Globally, this trend was most pronounced in the infant and toddler formula category, where an average of 78% of consumers said they would be willing to pay more, while 77% said they would pay more in the kids’ beverages category.”

Summing up what parents want: In her blog post, “What Makes a Mother Loyal to a Brand?” Zen Honeycutt, Founding Executive Director of Moms Across America, shares that women make 90% of household purchases, and that mothers purchase 85% of food. “Clearly,” Honeycutt says, “what appeals to women and mothers is important for a brand to know in order to grow and thrive… Knowing what mothers want…and implementing that…can make or break a company regardless of how tasty, healthy, or affordable the brand’s products are.” WF

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