PurposeChildren’s fruit intake is a part of healthy nutrition. Several children’s food products “look like” fruit; hence potentially fruit substitutes. Packaging includes brand names, indicators, and health claims related to fruit. These packaging cues may potentially lead to misperceptions of the products. The purpose of this paper is to examine at-risk parents’ substitutions of children’s fruit-branded products for real fruit. At-risk parents are of particular interest as they are a vulnerable segment when it comes to nutrition.Design/methodology/approachAt-risk families (n=149) completed a survey of their perceptions of children’s nutritional needs, fruit product substitutions, and brand purchase behavior.FindingsAt-risk parents report erroneous perceptions of children’s nutritional fruit intake needs. The results suggest that parents believe fruit-branded products are equivalent to real fruit. Parents’ knowledge and beliefs of fruit equivalency impact purchase decisions.Research limitations/implicationsLimitations include potential self-reporting and convenience sampling bias. The study did not attend to the complete product nutritional profile; only on fruit content. Future research should investigate other factors affecting food purchase decisions.Practical implicationsIndustry and policy implications include the balance between governmental regulation of food marketing, voluntary corporate responsibility, and the need for education.Originality/valueThis study provides insights into children’s food product packaging on at-risk family perceptions of real fruit substitutes and purchase behaviors. With the market for these products increasing, there is limited research investigating the impact of these products on children’s nutritional intake.
British Food Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 3, 2018
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