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    Retailers Can Boost Sales While Fighting Childhood Obesity: IRI Study

    CHICAGO -- If current trends continue, 50 percent of kids in the United States will be overweight by 2010, but healthier products aimed at children may just turn this around, according to a new report by market research firm Information Resources, Inc., based here.

    CHICAGO -- If current trends continue, 50 percent of kids in the United States will be overweight by 2010, but healthier products aimed at children may just turn this around, according to a new report by market research firm Information Resources, Inc., based here.

    The new study, "Healthy Kids Report: Understanding the Role of Better-for-You Products in Kid-Driven Food and Beverage Categories," examines emerging health trends for kid-driven food and beverage categories, and assesses the performance and future impact of better-for-you products.

    "Better-for-you innovation is driving volume growth in many of the most successful food and beverage categories," said Thom Blischok, president of IRI Retail Solutions and Strategic Consulting. "To truly understand the emerging trends taking place today in these kid-focused categories, retailers need an in-depth, cross-category analysis that provides implications and recommendations that go beyond the narrowly focused individual category reviews they work with today. The 'Healthy Kids Report' provides the key action steps that retailers can implement to drive differentiation and to develop a successful platform for revitalizing the center store."

    The IRI report includes an analysis of the better-for-you segment within 16 kid-driven food and beverage categories. It highlights the key growth trends and provides insight into which product attributes are working and which aren't, and what it all means for retailers.

    Here are a few of the findings:

    -- The "spending index" of households with kids is significantly higher than that of households without kids for many food and beverage categories. However, much of the marketing and variety focus in these categories is on adult tastes and preferences.

    -- Households with kids are a fast-growing, high-spending demographic that has driven 20 percent growth in key categories since 2002, vs. 2 percent for households without kids. Learning to serve these households will be a key competitive advantage for retailers and food and beverage manufacturers, according to the report.

    -- Within kid-driven categories, better-for-you products have grown a total of 31 percent since 2002, vs. 7 percent for mainstream products. In these categories, better-for-you innovation is driving volume growth more than any other factor.

    -- Many of the most successful new products in the past three years promote healthier eating and drinking, and are driving growth in these categories.

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