Wendyl wants to know: Healthy treat's cool packaging a winner
Fruit Hitz Variety
Pack $4.59 for four 90g pouches.
This product came into our house a few weeks ago because my daughter picked it up and the supermarket, read the ingredients label and quite rightly ascertained that it was good for her. There were no artificial colours or flavours, no added sugar or preservatives and as a bonus, it was made in New Zealand. So now every morning she packs the brightly coloured, very cool pouch into her lunchbox which is sitting right next to a bowl of new-season, fresh apples. If she grabbed an apple she'd get a similar amount of nutrition as this product is mostly apple puree, but there's just something more exciting for kids about packaging which you can take the top off and squeeze into your mouth. Biting an apple just doesn't pack the same interactive buzz. What my daughter is revealing is what many studies are starting to say about the ability of children to eat anything which looks like junk food, even when it isn't. Late last year, a group of carrot producers in the US packaged their baby carrots in bright, cartoon packaging with the tagline "Eat 'em like junk food" in an effort to get kids to eat carrots along with an interactive website and video game. And a 2007 study in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine[WN1] found that the more children had been exposed to fast-food marketing, the more they preferred fast food even when the food inside wasn't junk food. This product has four different flavours, which add an extra dimension to the apple flavour and they all have similar ingredients. I've chosen the grape flavour to analyse.
Apple Puree (88.4 per cent)
Anyone with babies or fond of roast pork will be familiar with this ingredient. It is cooked apple which is then processed in a smooth puree. This is made from 100 per cent New Zealand apples according to the label.
Apple Juice Concentrate (10.5 per cent)
This is apple juice which has had the starch and pectin removed and it is then pasteurised.
Blackcurrant Juice Concentrate
This will most likely be New Zealand-made blackcurrant juice which has been pasteurised, filtered and partially evaporated.
This is most likely added in here as a nutritional boost.
Acidity Regulator (330)
This is citric acid.
Nature Identical Grape Flavour
Now for the lesson on flavourings. In the other flavours of this product strawberry, summer berry and tropical natural flavours are listed. A natural flavour is obtained from plant or animal raw material. A nature identical flavour as used here is also known as synthetic because the flavouring is obtained by chemical synthesis of a natural product. You often see nature identical flavourings on herbal teas, for example, where the flavour for a certain fruit won't have come from the fruit mentioned but possibly another fruit which has been mixed with other natural substances to give the same flavour. So in this case the grape flavour hasn't come from grapes, possibly because this would be too expensive. Instead, it has come from some other natural product and synthesised with other natural products to obtain a grape flavour. To comply with our food standards it cannot contain any artificial flavouring which is obtained by using chemicals you would never find in nature. This is great because children for some reason love the grape taste, which in my mind doesn't taste at all like grapes, yet it is usually an artificial flavour if they are eating purple lollies or drinks.
If you compare the nutritional value of one of these 90g pouches with an average-sized apple they have similar amounts of protein, carbohydrates and sugars, but the pouch has less fibre, mainly because it doesn't have the skin of the apple included in it. I'm a bit torn about this product because on the one hand my daughter is eating fruit in her lunchbox because the way it is presented appeals to her. On the other hand, I think children should learn to eat fruit the way nature intended it in this case in the shape, texture and feel of an apple. If it helps make up your mind you can compare the cost of one pouch which is $1.14 to a Royal Gala apple which is about 30c at the moment. Which means you are paying about 80c for the processing and packaging which gets thrown away. I also find the key to getting children to eat fresh fruit is to buy it fresh and in season so that it is crisp and fresh-tasting. At the moment there are many varieties available such a Pink Lady, Pacific Rose, Jazz, Fuji and Granny Smiths. You can perhaps make them more appealing for your children by cutting them into segments, squeeze over lemon juice and put them in a sealable bag. At least that's what I'm going to try, and leave the Fruit Hitz as treats.
* Junk food packaging which appeals to children despite the healthy food inside.
* About the same nutritional value as a medium-sized apple but with less fibre.
* Priced at $1.14 per pouch opposed to one apple which costs about 30c