Early life nutrition:
Challenges & recommendations in 2023
Health and wellness
Parents are increasingly concerned with the health and wellness of their children. Although the initial anxiety around Covid-19 has gradually passed, 60% of global consumers agree with both of the following statements. Firstly, they have become more conscious about their child’s health, and secondly, they have been more proactive in addressing their child’s health as a result of Covid-19. Due to this, parents have continued with this proactive, prevention-over-cure approach to their child’s health, in which parents are addressing various problems before any physical or cognitive symptoms occur.
Attitudes to health and wellness
FMCG Gurus consumer insights reveal that, overall, parents are satisfied with their child’s health. Consumers are most satisfied with the weight management of their children. For instance, our findings demonstrate that 75% of parents are satisfied that their child is not underweight. This indicates that parents feel as though their child has a balanced diet and is not experiencing diet-related health problems.
Conversely, parents are evidently less satisfied with their child’s levels of physical activity, with 54% of global consumers satisfied with this area of their child’s health. This infers that as kids are spending more time on digital devices, they are spending significantly less time outdoors and therefore are less active, which is impacting their health. In addition, the most common concern among parents regarding their child’s health is diabetes (61%). This is linked to the increase in digital devices, which is affecting many children’s weight and immune systems. As a result, this attentiveness from parents is driving demand for food and drink products with free-from claims, as well as more natural products that will aid relaxation and improve sleep hygiene for their children, targeting their overall, holistic health.
Offer maximum efficacy
Further to many parents’ prevention-over-cure approach to their child’s wellness, a large number of consumers are looking for products with multiple ingredients and beneficial claims associated with health and wellness. Some of the most common claims which appeal to parents are food and drink products positioned around aiding nutritional levels (76%), strengthening immunity (70%), and supporting digestive health (62%). Products that offer these benefits will be perceived as having maximum efficacy, convenience, and value for parents who lead busy lifestyles.
It is important that brands are promoting products with multifunctional benefits which target and aid the holistic and overall health of their child. FMCG Gurus consumer insights show that 43% of parents increased the vitamin and mineral intake for their child to address health problems. Other common steps among parents are the increased consumption of fruit and vegetables as well as the reduced intake of sugar for their child.
This indicates that certain products and ingredients with various health benefits will appeal to parents. However, it is essential that brands accompany these health claims and benefits with clinically-proven evidence to support and validate these claims, which will provide reassurance for parents.
Health on a budget
With the significant impacts of today’s rising living costs, four in ten parents are worried it will impact their child’s health. This is due to the belief among 57% of global consumers that healthy products are more expensive.
This demonstrates that brands must show parents how healthy eating and nutrition for children can be achieved on a budget, for instance, by offering recipe innovations that can be carried out at a low cost.
With many parents having adopted a proactive approach to aiding their child’s health, a portion of consumers give their children supplements daily. For example, FMCG Gurus consumer insights demonstrate that 24% of consumers used nutritional supplements to address health problems in their children in the last six months. However, children consuming supplements can be seen to have some challenges. This includes a reluctance from children to ingest these products.
To combat this, brands should innovate their product formats by blurring the boundaries between functional food and confectionery, which children are much more likely to consume. If brands change the product formats of functional foods, parents will be able to incorporate these into their children’s diets and routines more easily.
Parents understand that the maintenance of their child’s health and wellness is their responsibility; however, many parents face various challenges when trying to do so. FMCG Gurus findings highlight that sugar is the ingredient that parents are most conscious about in food and drink products, with 74% of consumers concerned by sugar content in products. As children are typically drawn to sugary indulgences, parents are concerned by the link between obesity and diabetes and the hidden sugars in products.
Many parents believe that the complex labeling used by brands disguises ingredients. As a result, brands should ensure that nutritional labeling is made clear and simple for parents so that they are able to unpick the nutritional profile of products within seconds.
References and notes
This article is based on FMCG Gurus: Early Life Nutrition: Challenges & Recommendations in 2023.