In a 2017 Mintel survey, which quizzed 10,000 individuals on their grocery shopping habits, parents in France, Germany, Poland, Spain and Italy were all between 3 and 4% more willing to buy organic food and drink than adults without children.
“The fact that organic is so prevalent in baby food suggests that it could be extended further into kids foods as well, because parents are familiar with buying organic variants and organic brands,” said research manager at Mintel Food and Drink, Chris Brockman.
There are some food categories, however, where organic claims do not dominate: sweet treats in particular.
According to Mintel’s global product database, which tracks new food and drink launches in Europe over the past 12 months, there were no organic claims whatsoever for kids’ cakes and pastries compared to 6% for all launches. Similarly, only 2% of children-targeted chocolate bore an organic claim against 10% of all launches and 4% of kid-positioned ice creams and desserts were organic compared to 8% of all launches.
“This is largely because in [these categories], kids' products are in the main dominated by large mainstream players such as Nestle, Unilever and Mondelez etc, whereas organic tends to be the preserve of more premium and adult specialists,” Brockman told FoodNavigator.
However, over half (51%) of parents surveyed by the market research firm in 2015 said they were interested in healthier versions of their child's favourite treats when shopping, and so this could be an area for future product development.
That means there are definite opportunities in this category, said the Mintel analyst. “Parents are increasingly looking for health cues even within sweet treats and organic can help improve the 'health halo' of a product.”
One firm that sees the promise in organic lines is UK manufacturer Appy Food & Drinks; it is in the process of developing an entirely organic children’s brand.
It currently has two organic products under its Appy Kids Co brand – individual-sized organic raisin and mulberry snack packs, which are co-branded with cartoon characters Peppa the Pig and the Minions. The dried fruit snacks have a packaging and brand image that could rival traditional confectionery and sweets that often make use of cartoon characters (and have been criticised for doing so).
“We currently sell our organic lines to China and the Middle East; the Middle East has a very large appetite for organic products, as does the UK and Italy,” said Appy founder and CEO Bobby Patel. “[We] have found that organic products only sell better in certain countries, such as China, and are not always automatically favoured by all consumers.
According to Nielsen, Asia and Europe are on a par when it comes to the importance of organic and all-natural claims in baby food, with 31% saying this was an important consideration.