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Heinz surveys children about school meals

5th Aug 2021 - 07:00
Food company Heinz, which recently took the decision to reformulate its classic baked beans with reduced sugar, is behind the latest research to look into the likes and dislikes of the nation’s schoolchildren.

It carried out a UK survey of 1,000 schoolchildren aged between 6 and 16 – and their parents or guardians – to get their take on what’s served up to them at school.

A spokesman said: “The days of Turkey twizzlers and double helpings of chips are over. Children are more interested in their food than ever before – they want to be kind, do good and look after our planet.

“With the National Food Strategy, now is the time to create a food system that restores our health and our environment and ensures all children get the nutrition they need. Eating well in childhood is essential for both physical and mental growth.

“Getting the meals right for children aged 6-16 can be a challenge – their expectations are high - so food needs to be exciting and delicious, as well as meeting all the necessary standards. And from plant-based to free-from, we all need to make sure school meals offer a wide variety of options for different dietary requirements.

“This generation is logged on and linked up. Not only do they want to know what’s in their food, where it came from and what their choice says about them, but whatever they choose they expect it to be exciting, delicious and nutritious.”

Key findings from the survey include:

* 78% of parents say their child eats lunches made at school

* 60% of school kids either ‘like’ or ‘love’ the school lunches

* 20% of school kids want more vegan or veggie options

* 51% of parents say low-sugar lunch options are most important

* 25% of school kids want to try new tastes and flavours

* 47% of school kids want more options

CATERed, a co-operative trading company jointly owned by 67 local schools and Plymouth City Council, serves Heinz No Added Sugar (NAS) baked beans. Account manager Leanne Hengle was asked about how the children had taken the reformulated product.

Q: How have you benefited from having Heinz on the menu?

Leanne Hengle: Heinz No Added Sugar Baked Beans are always a welcome sight at our serveries and are served daily throughout CATERed schools, usually as one of three toppings for the jacket potato options, along with cheese and tuna mayonnaise. But they are also offered as an alternative vegetable for children who don’t like the traditional vegetable accompaniments.

They are very popular with the children. I was talking toa parent, who also happens to be a catering manager in another of our schools, and she said her son raves about ‘his school beans’. She told me Jacob had said to her ‘our home beans are not the same as school beans mummy, school beans are much better’. Also, by using the No Added Sugar variant we are cutting the amount of sugar consumed, ensuring the children benefit from a nutritionally-balanced meal.

Q: What do you like about Heinz?

LH: The main thing is that the children like them. And as a recognisable brand, Heinz also gives added kudos and trust about the content of our meals. I’ve lost count of the amount of parents I’ve heard say ‘and it’s great that you serve Heinz beans’. I think more so than the children of today, the parents are more of the ‘Beans Meanz Heinz’ generation and so by earning their trust, you inevitably earn the trust of their children too.

During Lockdown we provided food parcels to the homes of Free School Meals children that contained Heinz Beans. They were always well-received and many commented on how they were being ‘spoilt’ by having Heinz Beans included, which shows the value of the brand.

Q: How have you implemented Heinz on your menu?

LH: Heinz Beans are on offer every day as a topping for the jacket potato option and also as a vegetable accompaniment to those that want them. We also use them in two of our vegetarian/vegan dishes (Beanz Cobbler & Beanz Cottage Pie) which are from the Heinz recipe ideas.

Q: What do the kids think?

LH: The children seem to love the Heinz No Added Sugar Baked Beans. We have children who won't eat any other beans, children who have them every day and children who have them with everything, including with a roast dinner.

Written by
Edward Waddell