While there's plenty of attention given to getting children not to eat junk food, as a countermeasure to childhood obesity many brands are putting substantial efforts into persuading kids to eat healthier. This week two companies — one a veteran of "better-for-you" foods, the other not heralded for nutritious fare — have stepped forward to promote childhood consumption of fruit and vegetables.
McDonald's is the unlikelier player here. McDonald's UK is getting ready to launch a fizzy drink for children as an option with its Happy Meal packs on May 16th that claims to provide one of the recommended five-a-day portions of fruits and vegetables.
The Fanta-produced Fruitizz drink is being added as a beverage option on the Happy Meal menu, billed as a blend of 60 percent fruit juice from grapes, apples and raspberries with 'natural' sparkling water, comprising one official portion of the recommended daily allowance of fruit.
"For the past three years, we have been working hard behind the scenes to create a fizzy drink that is unlike anything else currently available in high street restaurants," stated Jill McDonald, CEO of McDonald's UK, in a press release. "We tried and tested 80 formulations in order to create the right product that delivers nutritional benefit as well as a new, exciting taste."
It's marketed — watch a director's cut for the UK TV campaign here — as containing no added sugars, artificial colors or flavors, but critics claim that Fruitizz, in fact, is made with 49 grams of sugar, or the equivalent of 12 spoonfuls of sugar.
Digital Journal reports, "According to Omninfo the drink contains a mix of 60 percent fruit juice combined with natural sparkling water. The fruit juice is a mixture of raspberry, grape and apple juice. The chain is marketing the drink as a healthier alternative to Coca-Cola although it contains just 7.5g less sugar.”
The move comes as McDonald's UK, which is making a major push around the Happy Meal as part of its marketing platform as an official sponsor of the London 2012 Olympics, recently added carrots and apple slices (using Tom & Jerry as mascots) to the Happy Meals served to kids in Great Britain.
America's Birds Eye brand, meanwhile, has become the first CPG company to join the "GenVeg" program of the Partnership for a Healthier America, a not-for-profit group working on the childhood-obesity crisis.
The frozen vegetable giant this week announced a $6-million commitment with Partnership for a Healthier America over three years. The goal: encouraging kids (and their caregivers) to add more vegetables to the menu by engaging them through kid-targeted marketing, new vegetable-based products, and budget-friendly coupon offers.
According to the announcement, Birds Eye said it will spend a minimum of $2 million in 2012, 2013 and 2014 on its veggie promotion campaign, and encourage kids to help the company create its two new products, which will meet the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Birds Eye also pledged over three years to distribute 50 million coupons for products that meet these guidelines, offering a 50% reduction in price for qualifying products.
The GenVeg program is being marketed to kids and tweens with ads running on Nickelodeon's iCarly series, where the hope is parents and caregivers might overhear the ads in the background and get inspired to veg out.
[Fruitizz images via and via]