Supporting Healthy Toddlers With Better Snack and Drink Formulations

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Toddler Formulations
Packaged foods designed for toddlers are convenient, but often unhealthy. Formulations researchers can develop alternatives that offer greater nutritional benefits. Image Credit: Flickr user Mike Liu

Recently consumers have been growing increasingly concerned about the packaged snacks and drinks being marketed to toddlers. While they are a convenient option for busy families, critics have pointed out that many contain added sugar, sometimes making up 40% to 60% of the final product, which is bad for toddlers’ teeth. It may also lead to unhealthy eating habits in the future, as young children acquire a taste for overly sweetened products.1

On the other end of this problematic spectrum, some companies are marketing bland snacks with little nutritional value at all. Although they can claim that their products do not contain excessive amounts of sugar, fat or sodium, most are comprised of little more than refined carbohydrates and oil, so they provide few benefits for growing toddlers.2

Companies in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry can respond to these concerns by developing snack and drink formulations that have fewer unhealthy ingredients as well as greater nutritional value. That way, parents can take advantage of the convenience of packaged snacks without worrying that it is negatively affecting the quality of their toddler’s diet. In order to develop new, toddler-specific food and beverage products that strike the necessary balance of healthful ingredients, CPG companies can utilize modern software that supports formulations development.

Sourcing Better Ingredients for Toddler Snacks

As formulations developers look to lower the amount of sugar in the snacks marketed to toddlers, sourcing new ingredients will be key. While simply knocking down the amount of sugar can make a snack healthier and no doubt cheaper to produce, companies will stand to lose customers if their snack foods no longer taste appealing. Therefore, it will be critical to find ways to make snacks taste good without being unhealthy, whether that means adding a touch of cinnamon and spice, or including a whole grain like quinoa, which provides a nutty flavor in addition to a nutritional punch of protein and fiber. Modern software can streamline the ingredient sourcing process so that CPG companies can quickly identify and procure the ingredients that will take toddler snacks to the next level.

Another way to improve the nutritional content of snacks and drinks is to fortify them with nutrients that toddlers need. For instance, studies show that between 6.5% and 15% of toddlers between the ages of 1 and 3 don’t get enough iron in their diet.3

This is especially true for toddlers that drink a lot of cow’s milk, since calcium interferes with iron absorption.4

Formulations developers can help remedy this problem by fortifying formerly bland snacks with iron or by finding ways to include iron-rich ingredients, like roasted pumpkin seeds.

Another option is to fortify foods with omega-3 fatty acids. According to the marketing research firm Euromonitor International, the rate of consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, which can play an important role in childhood brain development, is declining in Europe and North America, so adding them to toddler snacks could be a great way to boost their levels of this essential supplement. Unfortunately, omega-3s have the potential to alter the taste or smell of a food,5 so it will be important to find ingredients that offset these flavor changes using formulations development software.

Supporting the Commercial Viability of Toddler Snack Formulations

The market for healthier snacks continues to broaden, with more companies than ever finding ways to improve the nutritional value of their products. For example, Nestle recently announced that it has identified an ingredient that will allow for a 40% reduction in sugar without affecting the sweetness of its chocolate.6

New products will also be up against snacks that claim to be “naturally sweetened” or “certified organic.” With this growing competition in mind, there are several ways that formulations development software can help CPG companies ensure the commercial viability of healthy toddler snacks:

 

  • Improving the accessibility of data

 

It is important to store previous data digitally so that researchers can easily find and mine knowledge from experiments conducted in the past. Business and marketing research can also be stored in digital databases, which provides the opportunity for researchers to contextualize their scientific findings. By eliminating time-consuming searches through paper lab notebooks for relevant information, companies can bring new products to market faster, making it possible to respond promptly to or even get out ahead of market trends.

 

  • Computer simulations of new formulations

 

Another way to improve the efficiency of the research process is to test predictive models based on previous formulations in silico before conducting physical tests. That way, researchers can get an idea of whether a certain combination of ingredients has the desired textural features before they test it in the lab. Also, by avoiding purchasing materials for benchtop tests, a company can cut unnecessary costs and increase its profit margin. .

 

  • Information sharing and collaboration

 

Effective marketing is critical for the success of a packaged snack product for toddlers. By facilitating communication between departments, software makes it easier for formulations researchers to collaborate to come up with improved recipe development. That way, R&D can quickly and efficiently make multiple variants of the same product with different flavor combinations, nutritional supplements, etc.

As CPG companies work to develop better packaged snacks for toddlers, modern software can support the process at every step, from ingredient identification to testing to marketing. As a result, companies will be able to produce high-quality products that can successfully compete with less healthy alternatives in today’s competitive market, and perhaps even change things for the better.

BIOVIA Formulations is a software solution that can support the development of a wide range of CPG products, including food and beverages. Contact us today to get more information about integrating it into your lab, and to explore our other innovative software offerings.

  1. “Baby and toddler snack foods not as healthy as presented, CHOICE review says,” May 4, 2016, http://www.smh.com.au/business/consumer-affairs/baby-and-toddler-snack-foods-

    not-as-healthy-as-presented-choice-review-says-20160503-gol3zl.html

  2. “Snack Attack,” November 3, 2016, https://www.choice.com.au/babies-and-kids/feeding-your-baby/first-foods/articles/packaged-baby-snacks
  3. “Boosting the Iron in Your Toddler’s Diet,” January 8, 2013, http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2013/01/08/

    boosting-the-iron-in-your-toddlers-diet

  4. “The Relationship Between Cow’s Milk and Stores of Vitamin D and Iron in Early Childhood,” January 2013, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/12/12/peds.2012-1793.abstract

  5. “Snack manufacturers advised to target parents about omega-3’s brain benefits for children,” December 2, 2016, http://www.bakeryandsnacks.com/Ingredients/Manufacturers-to-target-parents-

    about-omega-3-s-benefits-for-children

  6. “Nestle Says It’s Found A Way To Reduce Sugar In Chocolate by 40 Percent,” December 4, 2016, http://www.npr.org/2016/12/04/504322104/nestle-says-its-found-a-way-

    to-reduce-sugar-in-chocolate-by-40-percent