Sugar and sodium cuts lead global reformulation

Food reformulation: government pressure to develop healthier products is paying off

More than 180,000 consumer goods were reformulated in 2016, with sugar and sodium the most targeted for removal by the food and drink industry, a global report has found.

Wholegrains and vitamins were the most common nutrients to be added to food and drink products, according to the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) Health & Wellness Progress Report, produced in conjunction with Deloitte.

Industry-led programmes to promote healthier diets and lifestyles served more than 30,000 communities in 2016, the CGF report said.

Based on a survey of CGF members, which included the likes of PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Walmart and Tesco, the report found that 44% of companies were consulted by national and/or regional governments about the issue of improving health and wellness.

Impact of government pressures

It demonstrated the impact of government pressures to develop healthier food, the report concluded.

The report offered an update on a series of resolutions and commitments, approved by the CGF’s board of directors in 2011 and 2014.

The resolutions focus on areas where manufacturers and retailers can work together to “drive positive change” and help empower people to make informed healthy diet and lifestyle choices, the CGF said.

In all, 79 companies (77%) reported that they had established policies and implemented programmes towards at least one of the three resolutions, while 55 companies (54%) said they had established policies and implemented programmes towards all three.

While results overall showed positive progress, the speed of implementation of these specific targets had proved a challenge, the report said.

‘Holistic, industry-wide’ approach

There was still much more to be done in embracing a “holistic, industry-wide” approach to health and wellness – and in contributing to a culture of prevention, the CGF noted.

More encouragingly, 102 companies contributed to the survey – a 30% increase compared with 2015. Of the total, 48 were involved in food and drink manufacturing, and 35 were retailers.

“We recognise that CGF members are making visible efforts to improve the health and wellness of people around the world,” said Paul Bulcke, chairman designate at Nestlé South Africa and member of the CGF board.

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