FDF Offers Guideline for Healthier Product Development
A new report from the UK Food and Drink Federation (FDF) – “Feeding change” offers a guideline for the producer in order to help them develop new healthier products for the final consumer.
The report underlines that the obesity and other nutrition disease are a major problem in the UK. “More than a quarter of adults are obese. In children, one in five entering primary school and one in three starting secondary school are overweight or obese. The health implications associated with being overweight or obese are numerous; type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and cancer,“ the report shows.
Kate Halliwell, FDF Head of UK Diet and Health Policy says: “In this report, we aim to provide a snapshot of the great work FDF members have done to improve the nation’s diet. FDF and its members recognize they have a role to play in tackling obesity, but we cannot do it alone. Through continued collaboration with Governments across the UK and other industry stakeholders, we are committed to being part of the solution and to improving the nation’s diet – and our commitment is demonstrated in this new report.”
Among the solutions proposed in the report, FDF mentioned product reformulation, reducing portion size and offering healthier options.
According to FDF, the steps for the reformulating process are:
Start with the original product;
Feasibility – Assess opportunities to introduce product changes for health;
Brief – Design product brief;
Development – Trial recipe changes in a development kitchen;
Factory trials – Establish how to make the new product at scale and implement changes;
Finish – Take the new product to market.
The expert view regarding product reformulation comes from Leatherhead Food Research: “From surveying our consumer panels, we know that a healthy diet is becoming increasingly important to people. Leatherhead Food Research’s recent questionnaire revealed that 44% of UK consumers are trying to eat less sugar, 8% are trying to eat more protein, 5% are trying to exclude gluten and 6% are trying to cut dairy from their diet. However, reformulation is not easy. Reformulation has an impact on flavor profiles, sweetness profiles and many elements of texture, color and visual appeal. (…) Understanding the science behind these changes is key to successful reformulation. Food and drink regulations also need to be considered so that products are legally described”.
The report offers the example of frozen potatoes producer McCain, which worked to reformulate some of its products. “As a responsible food manufacturer, McCain Foods is committed to ensuring their products can be enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Through reformulation, they have reduced salt in products by 22%, and saturated fat by 70% since 2001, and they remain committed to future reformulation work”, according to the document.
Speaking about portion reduction – British Nutrition Foundation offers an expert view: “To tackle obesity, we’ve got to think about how much people are eating as well as what they are eating. It’s been estimated that reducing our exposure to large portion sizes could lower our calorie intake by up to 16%. This has been clearly recognized by Public Health England – reducing portion sizes is a key feature of its sugars reformulation strategy for manufacturers, retailers and the out-of-home sector. For the food industry, it’s important to understand what consumers want from portion size information and how they might react to different sizes when choosing foods and drinks. This is particularly relevant for some snacks as these can be the high in salt, fat and/or sugar, which we’re encouraged to eat less of, and are likely to be pre-portioned, meaning the portion size provided can represent a ‘normal’ amount to consume in one sitting for a consumer. Some countries include portion size information for consumers as part of their food based dietary guidance, but in the UK we only have portion size guidance for certain foods. The British Nutrition Foundation is currently developing a resource on portion sizes, which aims to complement the Eatwell Guide and help consumers put healthy eating advice into practice. This should be published later this year. Portion size is a growing priority for public health and one where the food industry can be an integral part of the solution.”
Regarding the healthier options, the expert view comes again from Leatherhead Food Research: “Healthier options can mean a range of things. As part of a healthier diet, a reduction in the levels of sugar, fat and salt are recommended. 39% of UK consumers are looking for healthy products that make them feel full for longer, 19% are looking for products containing key vitamins and minerals and 17% want products to match their personal dietary and nutritional needs. As with sugars, salt and fat have functional roles in foods, giving flavor, texture, lift and preservative effects. Using science to underpin and explain these sensory properties allows the product developer to identify the functional roles precisely and make a healthier product that meets customers’ requirements. For example, fat reduction can be achieved by restructuring the water and oil in an emulsion such as a mayonnaise or salad dressing. By changing these emulsions from a standard high oil in water system to a waterin-oil-in-water(WOW) emulsion the level of fat can be reduced significantly but the creaminess and flavor retained. Regulatory issues are also important. For example, the claims “light” and “reduced” can be used as a comparative claims, provided that the conditions of use are being met. Comparative nutrition claims are widely used by the food industry as a powerful marketing tool to inform consumers about healthier options”.
Among the producers who made effort to offer healthier options to their customers, McCain Foods KP Snacks and Pepsico are mentioned in the report.
“McCain Food’s focus on innovation ensures they offer consumers a variety of tasty, convenient and nutritious products. This includes their Rustic Chips and Ready Baked Jackets, which each have four green nutritional indicators, and their foodservice ‘Simply’ range, which offers caterers operational solutions. Overall, 95% of their retail portfolio carries green or amber indicators across all nutrients,” according the document.
On the other hand, KP Snacks’ – a producer owning the potato snack brand Hula Hoops had also included healthier products in its range.
“KP Snacks’ product development program aims to deliver tasty new products to suit different tastes and occasions, including introducing permissible snacks. In 2015, KP launched Hula Hoops Puft; a light and floaty version of their iconic Hula Hoops brand, with 72 calories per 15g pack and with the same much-loved taste consumers expect.”
Pepsico is also another big producer who worked on its portfolio, including beverages and snacks.
“More than half of Pepsico’s product portfolio is now defined as ‘healthier’ according to OFCOM standards. PepsiCo’s recent innovation has focused on no-sugar/lower calorie products including Pepsi MAX Cherry and Pepsi MAX Ginger. Quaker launched a Granola range with 30% less sugar and fat than the average Granola on the market. Furthermore, 60% of PepsiCo’s single serve savory snacks are now 130 calories or less,” according to the report.
In the section called “Beyond Food”, McCain is mentioned again, being the first UK food manufacturer to adopt front of-pack, color-coded labeling – an important step in supporting consumers to make informed purchasing decisions. “Alongside this, they always aim to promote their products responsibly and never market products to children under the age of 12. They are committed to offering consumers good food that can be enjoyed by all,” says the document.
The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) is the voice of the UK food and drink manufacturing industry, the largest manufacturing sector in the country. The UK industry has a turnover of GBP97.3bn, which is 19% of total UK manufacturing, with Gross Value Added (GVA) of GBP28.8bn.