Nutrition trust: No child’s play


December 14, 2009

By Diwakar Kumar, December 2009

Parents continuously strive to do better for their children. They play an indelible role in shaping up the eating habits of their kids beginning at infancy. So when it comes the matter of feeding their toddlers, urban Indians (parents) typically are willing to go the extra mile in enhancing the nutrition quotient.

Once within a supermarket, however, an ambiguity pops up – that of making a choice between a Private Label (PL) and a Brand Label. A PL product undoubtedly offers opportunities for savings as compared to manufacturers` labels, but what of product quality?

When it comes to their offsprings` health, therefore, do modern Indian patterns feel open to experimentation with PL breakfast cereals, for instance? The fact that Private Label merchandise costs less because of a supply chain economy – and not because of significant loss of quality – is known to industry professionals, but do lay consumers equate a lower price with a lower standard?

What do visitors to ImagesFood feel? We posted an open question – When it comes to food products for their children, consumers are likely to favour brand names over private labels. About 91.67 per cent of the respondents supported the poll question where as 8.33 per cent voted in favour of private labels.

In response to the same question, Viney Singh, MD, Max Hypermarket India Private Limited, says, “The global experience on this is that brands are preferred for infant foods and not necessarily for children/adult food ranges. Private labels in these segments do exceedingly well as they offer excellent value; it is only those brands that have assiduously built their franchise through innovation and proprietary technologies /recipes that are preferred.”

Commenting on the same note, Mini Yadav, MD, Le Marche, says, “Today children are exposed to so much more via television and international travel. Advertisers specifically target children through their advertising. They are aware of all the food brands available internationally, whether chocolates, candy, breakfast cereals, cookies or snack foods.”

Yadav further says, “Branded food items are beautifully packaged and attract the child instantly; to the extent that they no longer want just cornflakes for breakfast… they now want Franken Berry, Fruit Loops and Pop Tarts. And as more and more parents now have a greater buying power, they willingly indulge their children. They are also willing to pay that little extra for variety and assured quality.”

Eventually, Devangshu Dutta, chief executive, Third Eyesight, says, “Food is possibly the most sensitive area, and even more so when it comes to children’s products. To the consumer, the corporate ownership of a food brand is not as important as the sense of confidence and safety that he or she feels.”

“If a retailer is trusted to provide the required quality that is equivalent to that of a well-established national supplier brand, consumers would have no problem in buying the product. On the other hand, if the consumer doesn’t have confidence in the retailer, then no matter what standards are met by the retailer in the laboratory, the consumer will not buy the private label food product,” he concludes.