Prepared Foods Exclusive: The Youth Market Comes of Age

March 10/Chicago & London/Prepared Foods Magazine & Business Insights -- The U.S. will see its young population increase noticeably in coming years. As Business Insights has found, in the US there will be 20.8 million 5-9 year olds by 2011, compared with 19.6m in 2006, a group notable for its diversity and its increasing amount of disposable income. In fact, that demographic in Europe is expected to see its pocket money increase by a compound annual growth rate of 6.5% over the next three years.

These consumers are facing a concept that Business Insights describes as “growing older younger”: they have access to the Internet; food and drinks manufacturers can use social networks to target them from a young age; and an increasing number have their own cell phones.

In addition, environmental concerns, food quality and food safety are driving parents to purchase ethical food and drinks for their kids. Products with organic claims took the largest share of new product launches, with 60.1% in 2008. The ethical area is benefiting directly from the kids getting older younger phenomenon, Business Insights finds, as these consumers are more aware of environmental issues at a younger age, giving food and drinks manufacturers’ opportunities to target them directly.

“Ethical claims on packaging should be made in such a way to attract kids, as well as parents,” advises Natasha Horton, consumer goods analyst at Business Insights.

At the same time, parents have a number of motivators impacting the foods and drinks they purchase for their kids. Health concerns, guilt, aspiration, control and perfection are driving this trend. Parents want their kids to be the best and strongest performers, so will buy products that claim to contain ingredients to promote these aspects.  Business Insights has delved into these and found that manufacturers of healthy food and drinks for young people are targeting their NPD efforts on physical health (part of efforts to combat childhood obesity) and mental health (in helping to deal with behavioral issues). By far, Business Insights has found, natural is the leading claim on healthy kids' food and drink launches, appearing on well more than half of new products driven by parental concern that additives may increase hyperactivity in kids.

All of these issues and more are thoroughly discussed in "Ethical and Wellness Food and Drinks for Kids: Key Product Trends and Manufacturer Strategies," published by Business Insights. The report offers an examination of health, indulgent, convenient and ethical food and drink offerings targeting children, while also examining the purchase habits of these consumers, as well as those of their parents when buying foods and beverages for their youngsters.

This report analyzes the range of influences impacting the purchase of food and drink for and by young people, ranging from upscale and gourmet, to wellness and functional, to convenience and all points in between.

From the March 10, 2009 Prepared Foods E-dition