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Blue Parrot Cafe range of children's food

(31 Posts)
Tigermoth Fri 30-Mar-01 13:27:06

Anyone else tried Sainsbury's new Blue Parrot Cafe range of children's food? It's billed as containing fewer additives and excess fats etc as well as being very appealing to children.

My children wolfed down the chicken nuggets, but as for Blue Parrot Cafe's claim to be more healthy, I'm not an additive expert so I can't comment. Do you think this is mostly a marketing ploy?

Lil Fri 30-Mar-01 14:55:43

Ha Tigermoth, I came across that yesterday, they were having a free sample booth. I had my little one with me, and granted he loved the chicken and the juice, but I can't see how these products are any better than the Organic range sainsbury's has. i guess it is a marketing ploy, but not sure if its more or less expensive than organic. Did you notice?

Marina Fri 30-Mar-01 14:57:21

Neither am I but to be honest I was a bit taken aback at the long list of additives on the packets I looked at last week. My main reaction was, if this is healthier eating with fewer additives, what's the other stuff like? So it seemed like a marketing ploy to me, but then my son is still at the age where he has not cottoned on to the general availability of Bob the Builder jelly and chicken nuggets, so it's all very well for us. How does it compare cost-wise with other ready meals popular with children I wonder?

Tigermoth Fri 30-Mar-01 15:14:20

Marina, Lil, as for cost, the range seems to cost less or the same as Sainsbury's organic stuff, eg yoghut, but since lot of the products do not have an organic equivalent it is hard to say conclusively.

I've noticed that lots of children's convenience meals contain cheap ingredients eg potato, carrots and peas as opposed to eg aubergines so I suppose all such meals should be inexpensive.

Our BPC chicken nuggets cost a little more than some ordinary brands, our BPC tub of cheese a little less.

Sml Mon 02-Apr-01 09:02:37

I checked the Blue Parrot Cafe stuff out at the weekend, and would give it a mixed reception.
The claim that it's endorsed by the Hyperactive Children's Support Group would imply that the range is safe for that small number of children who are made ill by food additives - but as a former HA child myself, I can say that that is certainly not the case. All the products I checked had enough preservatives in to make me ill. Of course, there might be children who only react to food colourings, who would be OK with them. Also noted that the standards are not the same across the range, eg some things guaranteed free from artificial flavourings, but others are not.
On the other hand, there are some additives I just hate and will never buy for my children, eg artificial sweeteners (no food value), Monosodium Glutamate (flavour enhancer - gives some people headaches). The BPC range was free from these. It also did seem to have fewer artificial additives than other similar products, though it's difficult to be sure, as they can hide additives inside other ingredients.
I don't like food additives because they are always used for one of two reasons:
- to try and make poor quality ingredients into something that looks/tastes like a good quality food (colourings/flavourings/stabilisers)
-to try and pass off old food as fresh (preservatives)
so I generally welcome food that seems to have fewer additives in it - but as I said, I take Sainsbury's claims for BPC range with a pinch of salt. As for the price, well it's obviously been carefully calculated using the middle class parent guiltometer, as well as the parents' busyness index. I should imagine that price of ingredients etc has as little to do with it as it has with the price of disposable nappies.

Oh, and the other thing was, they've got some brilliant new BPC trolleys for children - there's a little car for a toddler to ride in incorporated in the trolley!! I hadn't seen that before - my toddlers siezed on it with gusto and actually didn't fight over who would sit in the car the whole way round the supermarket, but took turns! Fortunately the third one was asleep all the way round. The only slightly embarassing thing was the cries of envy from less fortunate toddlers as we trundled round the store - they only seemed to have about 3 of these trolleys! Also, there is a knack to pushing them, a bit like driving an artic lorry I should think.

Tigermoth Mon 02-Apr-01 10:08:36

Sml, Thanks for the very useful information.And I think you're spot on about the middle class parent guiltometer/ parent's busyness index.

Look forward to seeing the new BPC trolleys. What fun!

Marina Mon 02-Apr-01 12:34:59

Thanks Sml. The trolleys have yet to make an appearance in downtown SE London Sainsburys, and it's interesting to hear that the claims for these foods are regarded as suspect by someone who has clearly given the matter some thought.

Rainbow Mon 02-Apr-01 21:17:32

I'm glad to see a discussion of this stuff - I only noticed it last week and had been wondering what it was all about. Incidentally, I looked at the BPC crisps today, and the only flavours they had were pizza, and 2 other weird flavours, which could not be created without the use of additives. And they were making very little of the 'additive-free' thing, so I guessed that it was a marketing ploy.

Ems Tue 03-Apr-01 19:48:59

I've just bought some of Sainsburys own brand fortified pasta, extra calcium, iron and fibre. Just thought I'd pass it on!

Ems Mon 16-Apr-01 12:16:21

Saw in Observer this weekend, an investigation report by the campaign group Focus on Food and the Observer on the Blue Parrot range. Many of the most popular products compare poorly on fat content and price with their standard equivalents.

Poor performers were: burgers (less protein and more fat) fish fingers (less protein and more salt and sugar) and mashed potato shapes (twice as much fat). The fresh fruit and veg was up to 3x more expensive.

Some was healthier though; wafer-thin ham contained 97 per cent pork, garlic baguettes, beef lasagne and cocktail sausages contained LESS fat and more protein than other ranges.

... apparently Sainsburys don't believe that any other supermarket offers such a well researched range of foods for children ..... (!!?)

(18,000 mums and kids)

Lil Tue 17-Apr-01 09:05:10

Ems I read that,and I thought what a very clever marketing strategy - you pick out all the foods you know kids like/eat, such as cherry tomatoes, chicken kiev etc, and you put a new branding on it, a smaller packet, charge more and wey-hey loadsa money. There's even a blue parrot shampoo! You've got to hand it to sainsbury's marketing dept. I agree with the woman in the Observer though who said that all kids food should be organic anyway.

Tigermoth Thu 19-Apr-01 09:40:07

Sainsburys have produced their own in-store leaflet on the Blue Parrot range. Will pick one up to see what they have got to say about it. I'm sure it's unbiased, of course!

Sml Thu 19-Apr-01 13:36:21

It's easy to shoot down the BPC range because of the amount of hype surrounding them - I couldn't help noticing that the BPC fairy cakes were right next to the spanish Ottoman fairy cakes in bags on the shelf. Ottoman fairy cakes are half the price and are genuinely additive free (though totally un-hyped!), however they are un-iced so need some attention to make them interesting to children.
Also, on reading the ingredients, some of the BPC frozen savoury stuff has more additives than certain well known makes.
I think it's a good move by Sainsbury's on the whole, but why not just find out what foods are already additive free/organic and put a BPC endorsement on them for guidance, rather than creating a whole new range?

Emmagee Sun 12-Aug-01 22:07:27

I just saw the new ad for the range with Jamie Oliver in Safari Park. I found myself shouting at the telly - not uncommon! - because during the ad it said that BPC is a new range of food which is 'healthier' for kids (healthier than what?) and then showed a close up of the pack with Jamie saying 'ooh, organic' which seemed to imply that it applies to the whole range - which it doesn't.

I am seriously thinking about writing to the ASA as I think it's generally misleading.

Winnie Mon 13-Aug-01 07:17:13

Emmagee, haven't seen the ad but the Blue parrot range is such a con... infuriatingly misleading. I'm with you about writing to the ASA!

Batters Fri 17-Aug-01 11:58:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

IDismyname Fri 17-Aug-01 21:42:48

I tried the BPC tinned baked beans with sausages a few weeks ago. I know that Heinz put loads of sugar in their baked beans, but this tasted as if someone had emptied the sugar bowl into the tin. Really, REALLY YUK! My son didn't think much of them. Theyre a con... a real con. Interesting about the Jamie O advert. Only seen it once, but will watch more carefully next time.

Rhiannon Sat 18-Aug-01 07:32:38

I went just for a look yesterday and decided to buy some cheesy sauce, looked for the one with the longest 'sell-by' date and most were 11th August! Now yesterday was the 17th August, so being a good citizen I told the first member of staff I saw. She told me to go to the Customer Service desk and tell them!! You can imagine my reply!

Faith Sat 18-Aug-01 09:21:29

O.K., time for a whinge about the staff attitudes in Sainsbury' unhelpful, and disinterested. The number of times I've asked for help finding something (they're always moving things, but thats another whinge!), to be told 'We don't stock that'! Last week I was told 'we don't stock fresh filo pastry'. So, I trailed my two tired daughters round the chiller cabinets until we found it. The same story for frozen sausage rolls a few weeks ago, and for small cartons of organic fruit juice!! Contrast with the staff in Tesco, who are only too glad to either find or fetch, and when I did my civic duty by helpfully pointing out that Orgran pasta, in the organic section, is not actually organic, noted my comments, and the next day I was rung by someone from the head office to confirm this!! Whinge over!!

Twink Sun 19-Aug-01 17:29:09

Faith & Rhiannon,

My experience of Sainsbury's is similiar - picked up a carton of fresh soup from the chiller cabinet and found it to be frozen solid when I got home so rang the store to suggest they had a refrigeration problem - the response was 'so what ?'
My other big whinge about them was one day when my then 18 month old projectile vomited over herself, the shopping, the aisle and me. I asked a member of staff for a cloth and to contact a cleaner before someone slipped in it and she returned with 2 tissues.... I abandoned the trolley, headed for the baby changing room which was closed for cleaning and drove home in my bra and knickers with a distraught child dressed only in a nappy.
Oh, and I've just remebered the time they stuck a 'do not park here' sticker on my car when it was parked in a parent & child space despite having their sticker stuck on the windscreen - apparently it was because I'd taken the rock-a-tot car seat into the store so there wasn't a visible child seat !! If only they were so vigilant with all the people who really haven't got kids with them !

I now use Tesco's internet shopping for as much as possible

Chach Tue 02-Oct-01 12:05:18

I know this was all discussed some time ago, but just last Sunday we bought a ready packed lunch for our 2 year old from BPC (haven't bought any BPC before). Half a cheese sandwich, a triangle of gooshy cheese, a packet of prawn cocktail crisps, 2 chocolate biscuits & a lollipop. Plus a box of organic orange juice (the only organic thing). This is NOT a lunch I would put together for a child and consider healthy. Why only half a sandwich?! Why crisps & biscuits & lollipops at all and what's wrong with a piece of fruit or raisins or carrot sticks? And do the crisps have to be so obviously artificial?

I was more than disappointed - more like disgusted. Does whoever put that together really think that constitutes healthy nutrition? Does anyone know how to write to Sainsbury's and complain (their website offers no help on this)?!

Toasty Tue 02-Oct-01 12:56:59

The additive issue aside we have tried a few items from the BPC range and the reaction I had from my ds was mainly "yuk yuk yuk" and on tasting the said macoroni cheese/nuggets/fish fingers (not all at the same sitting I might add!) I can wholeheartedly agree with him pretty yukky - very bland and tasteless - I think when using convenience foods I will stick with other cheaper and quite often tastier versions.

Paula1 Tue 02-Oct-01 13:27:09

My son absolutely loves their apple juice ice lollies. Everything else does look pretty yukky. I don't understand how the range suddenly appeared from nowhere, and miraculously at the same time other Sainsbury's own brand of the same thing (eg chicken nuggets) just 'disappeared'

Pupuce Tue 02-Oct-01 18:17:28

I agree (and so does ds) with the apple juice lollipops (good size, good taste)... I don't buy anything else from the range BUT I love the new BP trolleys with the car attached. It's great fun for ds who now has something to keep him busy and he is a hit with other shoppers as he makes his car noise and pretends to drive.

Fairy Tue 02-Oct-01 19:45:07

We only like the organic jelly bears, they are really nice, quite subtle as far as sweets go! But I have to say we avoid the trolleys with cars in like the plague. Not enough room for shopping, and they all seem to be locked up at ours, or driven by nutters, parents, not children!

Marks and Spencers range of childrens food is brilliant, he has tried most of the range and has liked almost everything, a big hit, he likes the roast dinner a lot, he is currently a big fan of roast potatos!

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