Why do toddler snacks cost so much?

We hear so much in the media about how we need to eat healthily and how there is too much sugar in everything.  I don’t think we can be entirely blamed for eating so much sugar though.  The manufacturers are the ones putting so much sugar in their products, and they are often cheaper than the healthier alternatives.  The average consumer probably isn’t even aware of the amount of sugar some things contain.

I am always thinking about what James eats.  I want him to try new foods, but I find it very difficult to get him to try fruit and vegetables.  I am at the stage where I am hiding carrots and parsnips in his mashed potato to get some vegetables in him, and the only fruit he will eat is raisins.  I have even tried the packs of raisins with dried apple and dried apricot in them to see if he would try them.  He picked most of the raisins out and then accidentally ate one of the dried apricot pieces, he spat it out and then that day refused to eat any more raisins.  I recently tried to get him to eat blueberries again, thinking that they were the same colour as raisins so he might give them a go.  He just prodded them with his fingers.  That is actually an improvement, as previously he wouldn’t have even touched them.  We celebrate these very small milestones.

James always seems far more willing to try foods that are less healthy for him.  He would happily eat a whole Cadbury’s Brunch Bar (please don’t judge me), or a chocolate digestive. There is a theme here in that these are snacks he has seen me eat, if I eat an apple or a banana though, he has no interest.  How does he know that the unhealthy snacks taste better than an apple or a banana?  The tactic I have been using is once he tries these unhealthy snacks I try to replace them with a similar healthier toddler snack.

Brunch bars have been replaced with Ella’s Kitchen Oaty Fingers, and chocolate digestives have been replaced with Ella’s Kitchen Raisin and Oat Cookies.  He has happily eaten both the Ella’s Kitchen snacks because they are of a similar texture to the unhealthy snacks he was happy to try before.

IMG_9196The point I wanted to make is that it would be a lot easier for me to give James the unhealthy snacks because they are so much cheaper.  I can get a pack of 6 Brunch Bars for £1 in our local Asda, but Ella’s Kitchen Oaty Fingers retail at £2.29 (price found on the Ella’s Kitchen website), for just 5 bars. In Asda these retail at £2.35, but at the time of writing are currently on offer at £1.50. The Ella’s Kitchen strawberry and apple Oaty Fingers contain 5.8g of naturally occurring sugars, where as the Brunch Bars contain 12g of sugar per bar. Brunch Bars are 7g bigger but they still contain more sugar per gram and it is not naturally occuring.  Therefore, if James has an Ella’s Kitchen Oaty Finger everyday, some weeks I am going to have to buy two boxes to last us a week (depending on how many we have leftover from the week before), costing £4.58.  If he had a Brunch Bar it would cost me £2, less than one box of Ella’s Kitchen Oaty Fingers.

img_9197.jpgMy second example is the Ella’s Kitchen Raisin and Oat Cookies.  These contain 0.7g of naturally occurring sugar per biscuit.  They are small so I would give him two and these cookies retail at £1.79.  I really like that they come in a resealable bag, which is much better than standard biscuits.  I was buying Asda own chocolate digestives retailing at 44p a pack.  I would only give James one biscuit and they contain 4.2g of sugar, which on the traffic light colour system comes up as red for high sugar content.  I could therefore buy 4 packs of Asda biscuits for the price of one bag of Ella’s Kitchen cookies, but they are not as healthy.

It’s not just Ella’s Kitchen products that seem to be expensive; Organix, Bear, Kiddylicious and other companies that make toddler snacks all seem to be on the expensive side.  It seems that with toddler snacks you get less per box or per bag and are charged far more for them.  If you have the time to make your own snacks, and a toddler that will eat them then great, but for people who rely on ready to go toddler snacks it feels like we are being financially penalised for wanting healthier versions of snacks for our children.

When we are constantly being told we need to eat less sugar and we are going to have a nation of obese children, why are we being charged so much more for healthier snacks? Surely if the healthier snacks were more affordable to everyone then more parents would be able to buy them, rather than cheaper, less healthy alternatives.  Toddler snacks really increase our shopping bill every week.  If we were in a position where we couldn’t afford to buy them then I probably would be buying James less healthy snacks, because he certainly doesn’t want to eat fruit as a snack.

On 6th April 2018, the government introduced the sugar tax on soft drinks to try to help combat childhood obesity.  I wonder if in the future there will be a sugar tax on all food, but rather than making unhealthy food more expensive, make the healthier food cheaper.  It is not fair to make healthy snacks a privilege to only those that can afford them.  We all want the best for our children, so we should be helped to do this.

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