Nicolette van Dam says she spent years developing the sweets for the Let’s brand. The fruit and vegetable candies have flavors such as strawberry and beetroot, or banana and carrot. The presenter calls it her mission on the accompanying website to ‘introduce the whole family to fruit and vegetables in a fun way’.
Foodwatch thinks that is too good to be true. “It is presented as an alternative to vegetables, but it is not at all,” says director Nicole van Gemert. “It’s full of syrups: such as date syrup and beet juice concentrate. In fact, it even contains as many sugars as Haribo’s Golden Bears.”
That is why the organization has nominated the sweets for the prize for the most misleading food product. “She presents it as a way to ‘get vegetables on the plate’. That is allowed, but it is pure deception,” says Van Gemert. “Then just go for snack tomatoes or candy cucumber.” Foodwatch writes in the nomination that children are taught sweet by the sweets instead of the non-sweet taste of vegetables.
The company says in a response that it does not agree with Foodwatch’s criticism. According to them, the sweets are not presented as an alternative to vegetables at all. “We believe that by showing that you can make delicious products with vegetables and fruit, children will develop a positive association and interest in fruit and vegetables, which makes the step to try fresh fruit and vegetables smaller,” it says below. more in the response.
Keep sweets and vegetables separate
Introduce children to fruit and vegetables through sweets. But that’s not so easy. “In 2018 I conducted an experiment with colleagues in which we wanted to make different types of sweets from vegetables,” chef Bart de Gans tells EditieNL. “We made bacon from yellow peppers and sour mats from cucumber. We wanted to see if children would eat vegetables if we presented them as candy.”
What turned out? “The kids didn’t like it at all,” says the chef. “It’s just really hard to present this as candy.” It could explain why vegetable sweets eventually become more candy than real vegetables. “It is better to keep sweets and vegetables separate.”