In response to growing concerns about children's nutrition, a Spanish candy firm is to launch a range of healthy vegetable snacks that it hopes will appeal to children who are already familiar with the brand name.
Key Enterprises used the Anuga trade fair last week as a platform to introduce its Freekee snacks, due to hit the international market in January.
The company's director, Bredan Ara, decided to produce a healthier snack after noticing that his own young daughter was showing a preference for candy over vegetables. "Part of the reason children go for the unhealthy options is that these are what are most available and appealing to them," he told BakeryAndSnacks.com.
The new product, which took six months to develop, contains 66 per cent vegetables such as peas, spinach, carrots and tomatoes and 12 per cent brown rice.
The product also carries an Omega 3 claim and is made with a combination of linseed oil, olive oil and sunflower oil. It is to be marketed as containing no trans fats or gluten.
"The images of vegetables on the product's packaging are out of focus, for the benefit of children who will recognize the logo and associate it with the candy products," said Ara.
Freekee snacks are predicted to enjoy most success in the UK, Ireland and Australia, where the brand is best known by children. The company claims to have sold around 25 million Freekee candy products last year in the UK, a country with a children's population of almost 12 million.
A surge in public interest over children's nutrition is increasingly discouraging the consumption of unhealthy snacks. Last month the UK government announced it will ban soft drinks and high-fat snacks from vending machines in schools as from September. Some authorities in the US have already barred certain products from school vending machines, while France has banned such machines from schools altogether.
As parents and schools look set to stock up on healthy alternatives, companies that manufacture healthy snacks are reporting a surge in sales.
UK based Hundinger Foods, which produces 100 per cent real fruit snacks for children, has announced that sales for its Fruit Snacks and Lunchbox mini Snacks have rocketed in recent months.
Freekee vegetable snacks have already captured the interest of Australia's New South Wales school board, based on a list of which foods are permitted in the nation's schools, according to Ara.
"The more countries that ban junk food in schools, the better," he said.