Dole is giving the foodservice industry an insight into kids’ minds when they eat out.

Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole Food Co. Inc’s foodservice Web site added two tools to help operators reach younger diners.

video — Kids Speak Out on Kids’ Menus — includes interviews with children about the types of foods they like to eat and how they would choose to make their own meals more healthful. It also follows a group of kids through a dinner hosted by a Four Seasons restaurant.

Dole adds video, research to foodservice site

“Kids need to be trained between 2 and 5 years — that’s when their taste buds develop,” said Dieter Preiser, a chef featured in the video. “I know it’s easier to buy the french fries ready for them, but it’s so much better for them to have fresh fruit, fresh vegetables.”

During the dinner, kids tried some of their favorite foods prepared using more healthful techniques, and tried fruits and vegetables in some new ways.

According to Mintel Group International, the population of children under the age of 12 in the U.S. should hit 1.3 million by 2014. When they’re 6-8 years, most order from a kids’ menu, but once they hit 12, that drops to about 45%, Mintel reports.

Chicago-based Mintel’s research is the second new addition to the Dole foodservice site.

The PowerPoint presentation from Mintel includes children’s menu research results, culinary techniques and how-to’s for kids’ menu development, according to a Dole news release. According to the presentation, the word fresh topped marketing claims made for food and beverages on kids’ menus.

It also said fewer kids are avoid vegetables altogether. Apples, mandarin oranges, grapes, pineapple, banana, berries and avocados were among kids’ favorite fruits, while potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, corn, celery, green beans, squash, spinach and cucumber made the top vegetables list.