It seems that there’s an almost constant stream of research and public health updates about the need for children – and adults – to include more fruit and vegetables in their diet. So how can food product development boost people’s five-a-day?
The findings come from a recent survey from healthy snack maker, Fruit Bowl. They also found that one-in-four eats just two portions a day, while consumption stands at 2.9 portions on average. Shockingly, 11% of children (12 and under) never get their five a day.
It’s the age-old problem with 45% of parents reporting to “struggle” to get their children to snack on fruit or vegetables. The results are similar to those found by Mintel, namely that half (50%) of parents find it a challenge to get their children to eat healthier snacks.
Children refusing to eat their greens is nothing new. Yet, one in three is overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school – and this is indeed a modern problem. Certainly, convenience foods and unhealthy snacks could be a contributing factor to this health issue.
Why is it important to get five-a-day?
The NHS states that fruit and vegetables offer a good source of vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin C and potassium – all contributing to growth, immunity and general wellbeing. What’s more, they’re an excellent source of dietary fibre, which can help to maintain a healthy gut and prevent constipation and other digestive problems.
For adults the guidance is 80g of fresh, canned or frozen veg or fruit but the NHS’s Change 4 Life healthy living initiative states that, for children, the amount depends on their size and age and, as a rough guide, one portion is the amount they can fit in the palm of their hand.
Any fresh fruit or vegetable but the types must vary over the course of the day. This includes frozen, tinned, dried and juice forms. While potatoes are a source of energy and provide fibre, vitamins and potassium they are a starchy food and so can’t be counted. Neither can yams, cassava and plantain.
Squeezing more into your product
To offer a product which promises one or more portions of fruit/veg in a serving, we recommend:
- Dry or dehydrated versions of fruits and vegetables which physically take up less space
- Using the whole fruit or vegetable – if it’s juice only one serving counts towards the five per day in any given day
- A balance of fruits and vegetables to help with the flavour profile. If it’s all kale in your new bake there may be a flavour implication which is less appealing
- A blend also allows for a wider mix of micronutrients to be introduced into the product