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Children's Eating Habits - UK - June 2019

Covered in this report

This report examines the behaviour and attitudes of UK parents of children aged 7-15 and UK children aged 7-15 in relation to eating/food.

“Scratch cooking has a health halo, and many parents feel guilty if they do not cook from scratch, so brands able to reassure parents that not cooking from scratch is OK can look to win favour. Key messages for prepared meals or meal components should be about quality of ingredients, healthiness and naturalness. Prioritising time together with children is also a relevant message if combined with reassuring parents on the well-balanced nutrition of prepared foods.”

– Richard Caines, Senior Food & Drink Analyst

This report examines the following issues:

  • Highlighting nutritional benefits and giving portion advice will help foods get into parents’ shopping baskets
  • Focusing on ‘new and exciting’ choices caters for kids’ strong interest in trying different meals and helps overcome boredom factor
  • Brands and retailers in prepared foods will gain from reassuring parents that not cooking from scratch is OK

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Slowdown in growth of child population
              • Three in 10 children are overweight or obese
                • Children are missing their 5-a-day targets
                  • Advertising of HFSS food and drink under the spotlight
                    • Companies and brands
                      • Products for kids aged 5-12 take a small share of food launches
                        • Snacks products and treats dominate children’s food launches
                          • ‘One of your 5-a-day’ claims tap parents’ concerns
                            • L/N/R sugar claims have increased
                              • Retailers tap significant opportunity for healthy ready meals for kids
                                • The consumer
                                  • Breakfast cereals and crisps foods most commonly bought for kids
                                    • Figure 1: Buying different foods specifically for children, April 2019
                                  • Eight in 10 parents have concerns about what their kids eat
                                    • Figure 2: Concerns among parents about children’s diets, April 2019
                                  • Brands that help parents to expand meal repertoires can win favour
                                    • Figure 3: Behaviours relating to children’s eating and meals, April 2019
                                  • Calling out vitamins/minerals will appeal to parents
                                    • Figure 4: Attitudes towards children’s eating and meals, April 2019
                                  • Marketing featuring family meals is still relevant
                                    • Half of parents cook most meals completely from scratch
                                      • Kids are keen on trying new meals at home
                                        • Figure 5: Children’s behaviour and attitudes in relation to food and meals, April 2019
                                      • What we think
                                      • Issues and Insights

                                        • Highlighting nutritional benefits and giving portion advice will help foods get into parents’ shopping baskets
                                          • The facts
                                            • The implications
                                              • Focusing on ‘new and exciting’ choices caters for kids’ strong interest in trying different meals and helps overcomes boredom factor
                                                • The facts
                                                  • The implications
                                                    • Brands and retailers in prepared foods will gain from reassuring parents that not cooking from scratch is OK
                                                      • The facts
                                                        • The implications
                                                        • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                                          • Slowdown in growth of child population
                                                            • Three in 10 children are overweight or obese
                                                              • Sugar reduction targets for nine categories
                                                                • 2019 Change4Life campaign focuses on food swaps
                                                                  • Children missing their 5-a-day targets
                                                                    • Advertising of HFSS food and drink under the spotlight
                                                                      • Brexit uncertainty continues
                                                                      • Market Drivers

                                                                        • Slowdown in growth of child population
                                                                          • Figure 6: Trends in the age structure of the UK population (0-15 year olds), by age, 2013-23
                                                                        • Three in 10 children are overweight or obese
                                                                          • Figure 7: Childhood obesity rates in England, 1995-2017
                                                                        • Sugar reduction targets for nine categories
                                                                          • 2019 Change4Life campaign focuses on food swaps
                                                                            • Calorie reduction targets due to be announced in mid-2019
                                                                              • Children missing their 5-a-day targets
                                                                                • Figure 8: Proportion of children aged 5-15 eating five portions or more of fruit and vegetables a day, by age, 2007 and 2017
                                                                              • New campaign hopes to encourage children to eat vegetables
                                                                                • Advertising of HFSS food and drink under the spotlight
                                                                                  • Brexit uncertainty continues
                                                                                  • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                                    • Products for kids aged 5-12 take a small share of food launches
                                                                                      • Snacks products and treats dominate children’s food launches
                                                                                        • ‘One of your 5-a-day’ claims tap parents’ concerns
                                                                                          • Whole grain/fibre claims are mostly made in cereals and pasta
                                                                                            • Vitamins/mineral claims continue in kids’ launches
                                                                                              • L/N/R sugar claims have increased
                                                                                                • Significant opportunity for healthy ready meals for kids
                                                                                                • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                                  • Products for kids aged 5-12 a small share of launches
                                                                                                    • Figure 9: Proportion of new launches in the UK food market categorised as featuring children (5-12) claims, 2013-19
                                                                                                  • Snack products and treats dominate children’s food launches
                                                                                                    • Figure 10: Breakdown of new food launches assigned children (5-12) claims, by category, 2013-18
                                                                                                    • Figure 11: Incidence of children (5-12) claims in different food categories, % of launches in each category, 2013-19
                                                                                                  • ‘One of your 5-a-day’ claims tap parents’ concerns
                                                                                                    • Prepared meals for kids with one of your 5-a-day
                                                                                                      • Figure 12: Examples of children’s (5-12) launches with one of your 5-a-day claims in meals, 2018/19
                                                                                                    • Snacks position themselves as boosting 5-a-day intake
                                                                                                      • Figure 13: Examples of children’s (5-12) launches with one of your 5-a-day claims in snacks, 2018
                                                                                                    • Whole grain/fibre claims are mostly made in cereals and pasta
                                                                                                        • Figure 14: Examples of children’s (5-12) launches making high/added fibre claims, 2018/19
                                                                                                      • New formats for yogurts and cereals – vitamins/mineral claims continue
                                                                                                        • On-the-go formats
                                                                                                          • Kefir for kids
                                                                                                            • Figure 15: Examples of children’s (5-12) launches making vitamin/mineral claims, 2018/19
                                                                                                          • L/N/R sugar claims have increased
                                                                                                            • No added sugar claims are prevalent in fruit snacks
                                                                                                              • Low/reduced claims remain rare
                                                                                                                • Figure 16: Examples of children’s (5-12) launches making no added sugar and low/reduced sugar claims, 2018/19
                                                                                                              • Significant opportunity for healthy ready meals for kids
                                                                                                                • Figure 17: Examples of children’s (5-12) launches in prepared meals, 2018
                                                                                                            • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                              • Breakfast cereals and crisps are the foods most commonly bought for kids
                                                                                                                • Eight in 10 parents have concerns about what their kids eat
                                                                                                                  • Parents worry about kids’ 5-a-day intake
                                                                                                                    • Most families have a fairly narrow repertoire of meals
                                                                                                                      • Calling out vitamins/minerals will appeal to parents
                                                                                                                        • Ensuring a well-balanced diet for kids is challenging for parents
                                                                                                                          • Marketing featuring family meals is still relevant
                                                                                                                            • Half of parents cook most meals completely from scratch
                                                                                                                              • Kids are keen on trying new meals at home
                                                                                                                                • More interesting lunch box and breakfast options
                                                                                                                                • Foods Specifically Bought for Children

                                                                                                                                  • Breakfast cereals and crisps foods most commonly bought for kids
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 18: Buying different foods specifically for children, April 2019
                                                                                                                                  • Snack products more likely to be bought specifically for kids
                                                                                                                                  • Parents’ Concerns Regarding Children’s Diets

                                                                                                                                    • Eight in 10 parents have concerns about what their kids eat
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 19: Parents’ concerns regarding children’s diets, April 2019
                                                                                                                                    • Sugar is top of parental concerns about kids’ diets
                                                                                                                                      • Sugary treats are widely bought for children
                                                                                                                                        • Parents worry about kids’ 5-a-day intake
                                                                                                                                          • Opportunities for brands to win favour by helping parents
                                                                                                                                          • Behaviours Relating to Children’s Eating and Meals

                                                                                                                                            • Brands that help parents to expand meal repertoires can win favour
                                                                                                                                              • Children’s menus as habitual, but they are keen to try different meals
                                                                                                                                                • Parents struggle for meal ideas
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 20: Behaviours relating to children’s eating and meals, April 2019
                                                                                                                                                • Meat-free dinners are part of the menu for most kids
                                                                                                                                                • Attitudes towards Children’s Eating and Meals

                                                                                                                                                  • Calling out vitamins/minerals will appeal to parents
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 21: Attitudes towards children’s eating and meals, April 2019
                                                                                                                                                  • Ensuring a well-balanced diet for kids is challenging for parents
                                                                                                                                                    • ‘Stealth health’ and recipe suggestions can chime
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 22: belVita breakfast biscuits pairing suggestion, August 2018
                                                                                                                                                    • Supermarket loyalty schemes can win favour by sharing information
                                                                                                                                                    • Household Meal Patterns

                                                                                                                                                      • Marketing featuring family meals is still relevant
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 23: Eating at different times vs eating at the same time, April 2019
                                                                                                                                                      • Different meals for adults and children in a third of households
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 24: Eating the same meals vs eating different meals, April 2019
                                                                                                                                                      • Same meal at the same time is the norm for three in five
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 25: Summary of meal eating patterns, April 2019
                                                                                                                                                    • Type of Meal Cooked/Prepared Most Often

                                                                                                                                                      • Half of parents cook most meals completely from scratch
                                                                                                                                                        • Marketing needs to reassure parents of the quality and healthiness of prepared products
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 26: Cooking from scratch, partly from scratch and using prepared meals most often in household as same meal for adults and children, April 2019
                                                                                                                                                        • Not all parents want to spend a long time in kitchen
                                                                                                                                                        • Meals Eaten at Home by Children

                                                                                                                                                          • Pasta and pizza are the most common kids’ meals
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 27: Meals eaten at home by children in the last two weeks, April 2109
                                                                                                                                                        • Children’s Behaviour and Attitudes

                                                                                                                                                          • Kids are keen on trying new meals at home
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 28: Children’s behaviour and attitudes in relation to food and meals, April 2019
                                                                                                                                                          • Most children cook meals and bake
                                                                                                                                                            • More interesting lunch box and breakfast options
                                                                                                                                                              • School lunches get boring for half of kids
                                                                                                                                                                • Breakfast food brands need to discourage skipping of breakfast
                                                                                                                                                                • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                                    • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                      • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                                                                      • Appendix – Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 29: New food launches making children (5-12) claims, by claim, 2013-19
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 30: Total food launches, by claim (top 40), 2013-19

                                                                                                                                                                      Children's Eating Habits - UK - June 2019

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