Nestlé, one of the world’s biggest chocolate manufacturers, will take 10% of the sugar out of its confectionery in the UK and Ireland by 2018.
The corporation says the cut is from the levels existing in its sugary products in 2015 and will amount to about 7,500 tonnes. It makes several well-known brands, including Aero, Dairy Box, Drifter, KitKat, Lion, Milkybar, Munchies, Polo, Quality Street, Rolo, Smarties, Toffee Crisp, Walnut Whip and Yorkie.
The announcement follows public concern over the quantity of sugar in the country’s diet and its contribution to rising obesity levels. The threat of a sugar levy on soft drinks has encouraged the reformulation of Irn Bru and Lucozade, which will escape the tax, although there have been no such moves by PepsiCo or Coca-Cola. There is no proposed tax on sugar in food, but the government has hinted it might come if the country’s sugar intake is not reduced.
Nestlé says it will not use artificial sweeteners in its confectionery. Instead it plans to replace sugar with higher quantities of existing ingredients or other, non-artificial ingredients and ensuring products are below a certain amount of calories.
Reduced sizes are likely to be one of the options, and it is possible that a certain amount of sugar can be taken out without affecting the taste much.
“The 10% reduction is not a case of a straight swap of sugar for another ingredient – it will be achieved in a number of different ways so that we can make sure that the taste is as good or better from product to product,” a spokesperson said.
“We are not announcing specific changes to brands at this stage but over the coming months and years we will introduce revised products that make incremental reductions on sugar in different ways that, when added up, make a big difference overall to the nation’s diet while still maintaining taste.”
In November, Nestlé announced it had made a key breakthrough in food science that would allow it to reduce sugar by up to 40%. It claimed its scientists had found a way to “structure sugar differently”.
In the latest announcement, Fiona Kendrick chair and chief executive of Nestlé UK and Ireland, suggested this technological shift would be part of the answer.
“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,” she said.
Public Health England, which is charged with encouraging companies to reformulate their products, welcomed the announcement.
“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,” said Duncan Selbie, PHE’s chief executive.
“This sends a clear message that reducing sugar in food is possible, even in products that are typically harder to reformulate.”
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