Children's food market worth billions

Related tags Children Food Marketing Nutrition Food and drink federation

Confirmation that food marketers will continue to roll out food
products targeted at children is evident in a new study that
reports British kids aged between 7 to 14 years old receive a
massive £1.5 billion in pocket money and financial handouts.

On the back of an overall lift in consumer spending, in total Britain's 7 to 10 year olds receive almost £417 million, while 11 - 14 year olds are given £1.1 billion a year, report market analysts Mintel​.

"In Britain consumer spending continues to rise and it is clear that children are benefiting from this trend. Parents here are increasingly likely to be generous towards their children, but for many pocket money is not enough, so they simply give them cash as and when they want or need it,"​ said Jenny Catlin, an analyst at the London-based market research group.

Food marketers will take note that according to the study the children in the north have more money to burn than their southern peers. 'Those aged 7 - 10 years old in the south, receive just £2.84 a week, only 6 per cent up on what they received two years ago compared to those living in the North that are given around £3.47 - well above the national average of £3.10 a week - up some 16 per cent on what they received in 2001,'​ claims the report.

There is a similar divide for those aged between 11 and 14 years old, with those in the south receiving £7.12 compared to £7.57 in the north.

"Today there is a higher number of lower income families in the North of England, and many parents may simply want to give their children everything that they did not have when they were young,"​ comments Catlin.

Children aged between 15 and 16 year olds receive a further £1.6 billion in income and pocket money, bringing the total for 7 to16 year olds up to a considerable £3 billion in potential sales. 'These older children are often more independent and are likely to have either part-time jobs or may have already left school and be on an annual income,'​ claims the report.

Parents are not the only source of income. Among the 7 to 10 year olds, over three in five - or 64 per cent - say that they receive financial gifts from their grandparents, and half of those aged between 11 and 14 years old are still getting money from their grandparents.

"It is clear that a significant amount of money now comes from grandparents. As people are living longer it is more likely that generations will over lap for a longer period of time, allowing grandparents to take a more active role in their grandchildren's care,"​ said Jenny Catlin.

The potential market is clearly there, but food makers and marketers are in the firing line as consumer groups place the responsibility for rising childhood obesity levels on tempting marketing campaigns.

Recent accusations from the UK Food Commission in a report, Broadcasting Bad Health: why food marketing to children needs to be controlled, claims that manufacturers are deliberately targeting children with high-calorie, low-nutrient foods.

The Commission makes its allegations in a report, Broadcasting Bad Health: why food marketing to children needs to be controlled, and criticizes the methods - and budgets - employed to advertise what it calls junk food.

The report claims that food advertising expenditure is $40 billion (€34.7bn), and that for every $1 spent by the World Health Organisation on preventing the diseases caused by western diets, more than $500 is spent by the food industry promoting them.

Much of the advertising is targeted squarely at children, the Food Commission claims. In industrialised countries, food advertising accounts for around half of all advertising broadcast during children's TV viewing times, the report states, adding that three-quarters of such food adverts promote high-calorie, low-nutrient foods.

"Junk foods and sugary drinks are supported by enormous advertising budgets that dwarf any attempt to educate children about healthy diets,"​ said research officer Kath Dalmeny, co-author of the Food Commission report.

But the Food and Drink Federation, voice of the UK food and drink manufacturing industry, said that its members acted responsibly when it came to marketing products to children.

"UK food and drink manufacturers take a very responsible view of their relationships with children. There are already strict Codes of Practice governing advertising and these state that ads should not encourage children to eat or drink frequently throughout the day, condone excessive consumption or suggest that confectionery or snacks should replace balanced meals,"​ said the FDF in a recent statement.

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