News article

22 May 2018

FDF response to PHE report: Sugar reduction and wider reformulation programme

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Tim Rycroft, FDF Director of Corporate Affairs said:

“We are encouraged that today's report highlights some of the recent reformulation work undertaken by industry, with sugar reduction reported in five out of the eight food product categories. In some categories we have always said that sugar reduction would be particularly challenging. Nonetheless many of those categories have made good progress in reducing calories.

“As PHE correctly point out, reformulation takes time – it can't happen overnight. Sugar reduction has considerable technical challenges; sugar plays a variety of roles beyond sweetness in food including colour, texture and consistency. It is for these reasons that we have long said that the guidelines are ambitious and will not be met across all categories or in the timescale outlined.

“Obesity poses a huge public health challenge in the UK, and food and drink companies are well aware of their role in addressing this issue. For the last decade the UK's food and drink companies have been reformulating their products to reduce sugar, calories, fat and salt, as well as limiting portion sizes. In fact, over the last five years FDF members have reduced calorie content in the average basket by 5.5%, and sugar content by 12.1% – and there is more work in the pipeline.

“The out of home sector must show a greater commitment to engaging with this programme. In many categories, the calorie content per portion of food served in cafes, coffee shops and restaurants is almost double that of manufacturers and retailers – this is at a time when 25% of total calorie consumption takes place outside the home.

“Food and drink manufacturers are fully engaged in this ambitious programme. PHE themselves recognise that this is an early assessment of progress and that these are the results of just the first year of a four year programme. This is a long term commitment - companies need time to reformulate their products and any restrictions which would prevent them from communicating these changes effectively with adult consumers would undermine the work they are currently engaged in.”

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