Tesco has become the first British supermarket to cut fresh fruit and vegetables into fun shapes in a bid to encourage children to eat healthier.
The range, which went on sale on 8 September, will begin with easy-to-eat, star-shaped butternut squash bites and then roll out to include other fresh produce including smiley sweet potato faces.
Traditionally a technique used for products like tinned alphabet spaghetti and frozen potato dishes, it is the first time this approach has been used for fresh fruit and veg, Tesco claims.
The retailer says it has learned that children relate to foods when they come in interesting shapes and sizes and it hopes it can make mealtimes more engaging and fun, while encouraging children to explore a wider range of vegetables.
Tesco vegetable buyer Elizabeth Hall said: “We want to give parents a helping hand with encouraging their kids to eat more vegetables.
“We’ve taken away a lot of the hassle out of preparing vegetables like butternut squash, which might deter busy cooks at home, whilst also making them more appealing for children.
“We hope by adding a touch of novelty, we can make vegetables the deliciously nutritious and fun part of every meal.”
The move by Tesco to create the child-friendly vegetable shapes has been welcomed by the NFU. The body’s chairman, Ali Capper, said: “Congratulations to Tesco for addressing how we can we can instil a love of fruit and vegetables in children from a very young age.
“We have long been calling on food manufacturers to create fun-shaped fruit and veg for children in smaller-sized portions, which we believe could have a role in helping reverse the current obesity crisis.”
The supermarket also said its butternut squash stars will help it reduce food waste. “Besides these stars, butternut is used to make our carb alternatives such as fusilli, spaghetti, lasagne sheets, as well as wedges and soups,” Hall explained.
The Butternut Squash Stars will be available in 200 Tesco stores across the UK and will cost £1.50 per 250g pack.