>>you can make a healthy lunchbox meal but will children actually eat it?

The lunchbox, particularly the children’s lunchbox, is on the front line of the battle to improve the nation’s eating habits, but it is a complex conflict between functional and emotional needs - between health and convenience, between something substantial and a treat to follow, between what gets eaten and what gets left.
It is also at the heart of a battleground between parents and the kids, with many mums desperate to get them to eat more healthily, whilst their offspring continue to prefer the things they shouldn’t.
Our respondents are aware of the risk that anything that isn’t liked will simply be traded or thrown, as they have no control over what is actually eaten. It is a dilemma that continually shapes their response to products for the lunchbox that has intensified over the past 12 months.
These issues were well demonstrated in the mixed consumer response to many of the new lunchbox products tested over the last year, particularly those positioned for kids.
Most inevitably had a healthy spin, but few enjoyed universal approval, with significant differences in response between parents and children.
Fortified versions of white breads for sandwiches, dried fruit mixes, pure fruit drinks and jellies were all well received by parents, but were neither as attractive or enjoyable for the kids and given at best a mixed response or rejected outright.
Many kids are unfamiliar with dried fruits and have a sweet tooth, often indulged with tempting treats to get them to eat their packed lunches. Complicate this with a premium price and another layer of concern is added to a healthier alternative - will it be thrown away and the money wasted?
No such concerns affect foods for the adult lunchbox, with crisps, instant soup and noodle-based snacks still highly popular choices.
A 100% pure fruit drink that had strong appeal for health-conscious mums. The taste did not as appeal as strongly for the juniors.
An ideal lunchbox treat, particularly for the under 10s. Mum, too, loved this cereal and milk combination and was happy to buy.
A healthier version containing orange juice and yoghurt, great as an occasional treat for younger children. Strong child appeal, but mum would consider it expensive.
Well packaged and priced, this attracted health-conscious parents. The juniors were more reticent about the taste and texture of unfamiliar dried fruits.
An average score that would have been higher if the pepper had not been so strong. Great for the office.
An enthusiastic response for “one of the nicest dried soups I’ve tasted”. Strong appeal for younger working/time-starved consumers.
The front line in the battle to improve the nation’s eating habits
Put to the test: six recent launches (maximum score 50)Innocent Smoothie for Kids - Apple & Blackcurrant Score: 35 Category average: 29
Kinder Country Score: 42 Category average: 39
Dairylea Lunchables Stak’ems - Ham Score: 27 Category average: 27
Humdinger Lunchbox Mini Snacks Score: 33 Category average: 33
Light Philadelphia Mini Tubs - Cracked Pepper Score: 33 Category average: 33
Cup a Soup Crunch - Rich Tomato & Black Pepper Croutons Score: 37 Category average: 33
Produced for The Grocer by Cambridge Fast Foodfax, an independent standardised new product testing service where a sample of 50 consumers rate new products across 10 key performance measures. Maximum score 50. Details on www.fast-foodfax.com.