Nestlé UK & Ireland has announced that it will strip out 10% of sugar from its confectionery portfolio by 2018 amid wider pressure on food & drink manufacturers to make their products healthier to help tackle rising levels of obesity.
Nestlé’s initiative will see around 7,500 tonnes of sugar removed across a number of its well-known brands, which include KitKat, Toffee Crisp, Yorkie and Aero. The company said that the changes will largely be achieved by replacing sugar with higher quantities of existing ingredients or other, non-artificial ingredients and ensuring products are below a certain amount of calories. Nestlé added that continuing investment in research and development will also deliver new technology and innovation to further improve products in the future.
Fiona Kendrick, Chairman and CEO of Nestlé UK and Ireland, commented: “Our confectionery brands have been enjoyed in the UK for more than a century and we know that if we can improve these products nutritionally, provide more choice and information for the consumer, together with other categories, we can have a significant impact on public health.
“Nestlé is at the forefront of efforts to research and develop new technology that makes food products better for our consumers. These innovations will help us to reduce sugar in confectionery when they are combined with other, more common methods like reformulating recipes and swapping sugar for other, non-artificial ingredients.
“Making these improvements to our products is key to us delivering better choices for our consumers while retaining the same great taste that they know and love.”
Last year, Nestlé revealed that its researcher had found a natural process that reduces sugar content by as much as 40%, whilst maintaining taste.
The food & drink industry as a whole is under pressure to help reduce sugar content in people’s diets with Public Health England (PHE) seeking to cut levels by 20% across a wide range products by 2020 to help fight childhood obesity. The government’s plans to introduce a sugar levy on soft drinks has already encouraged a number of manufacturers to reformulate their products. Whilst there is no proposed tax on sugar in food, the government has hinted it might come if the country’s sugar intake is not reduced.
PHE welcomed Nestlé’s announcement with its Chief Executive Duncan Selbie saying: “Nestlé is the latest household name to commit to making everyday products healthier and we’re delighted this is just the start of its efforts. This sends a clear message that reducing sugar in food is possible, even in products that are typically harder to reformulate.”
- Where at: We are at the beginning of a journey where reduced sugar content becomes a competitive edge. Despite the fact that in the confectionery category, taste is a key determinant of loyalty and despite the difficulties in replicating a brand’s original taste via alternatives, brand owners will find a way forward.
- Where headed: Governments will increasingly apply health economics principles (tax income vs. cost of hospital bed-days) until the market produces an acceptable equilibrium point in terms of minimum sugar content, and its after-effects…
- Effect on you: Obvious opportunities for NAMs in substitute-categories (non-confectionery)…
- Action: Meanwhile, confectionery suppliers – and retailers – need to strive for 100% credibility in terms of communicating progress in sugar-reduction to their consumers.