Processors have to work harder to create healthy snacks that will appeal to children, but big opportunities do exist for fruit- and vegetable-based snacks, according to Food Manufacture's exclusive survey.
Out of 2,026 consumers canvassed in the Harris Interactive Omnibus poll, only a third believed processors were successfully creating healthy snacks that appealed to children. Two thirds of respondents either disagreed or were unconvinced.
72% stated that they would like to see more fruit-based products in school. Six out of 10 said they would like to see more vegetable-based items, four in 10 would like to see more dairy-based products and three in 10 wanted more cereal-based foods. Consequently, there could be opportunities for new launches in these areas.
More than half were either unconvinced that school nutrition had improved from 2007-8, or did not agree it had. That's despite the School Food Trust's (SFT's) work with suppliers to strengthen nutritional standards in different food categories. New nutrient standards launch in primary schools in September and in secondary schools next year.
More than half thought the industry should do more to teach parents how to make nutritionally balanced packed lunches.
Following government proposals to extend many schools' opening hours by 2010, more than two thirds of those quizzed thought schools should make breakfasts as well as lunches available to all schoolchildren.
The SFT claimed school food take-up rose by 2.3% in primary schools, while take-up fell 0.5% in secondary schools in the past year - a slower decline than the 5% fall in 2006-7.
"The Trust believes everyone has a part to play in educating the eating habits of our children. The recent increase in primary school take-up hints at changing attitudes and we must seize the opportunity to capitalise on this," said an SFT spokeswoman.