The ‘hands-on’ partnership is backed by government funding of £172,000 from September 2012 to September 2014 to cover all related costs, including salaries, publicity, print materials and events. The commitment continues an existing partnership, in which the SFDF has already provided reformulation advice to manufacturers across Scotland, in an effort to create healthier products.
Minister for public health Michael Matheson said: "It is really encouraging to see small businesses making their products healthier, crucially without impacting on sales. Simple updates to recipes or processes can make all the difference, often without much impact on taste. …Our programme for small businesses makes an important contribution, and we are having wider discussions with major manufacturers, retailers and caterers about broader actions to inspire healthier choices across the whole food spectrum."
He added that the Scottish government is spending more than £2.5m over the next two years on multiple measures to improve Scottish diets.
Director of the SFDF Dr Colette Backwell said: "We are delighted that the Scottish Government has recognised our work to make products healthier. As an industry, we are committed to playing our part in the improvement of public health and tackling the challenges of overweight and obesity alongside government and other partners.
"This programme gives the smaller companies at the core of our industry access to in-house new product development expertise, whilst maintaining the safety and quality of the great Scottish food and drink in which our consumers place their trust."
Among the products that have already been reformulated under the programme are Tods of Orkney oatcakes and Stuarts of Buckhaven butchery.
The proportion of Scottish adults who are overweight or obese has increased dramatically in recent years, from 52% of the population in 1995 to 63% in 2010, according to government figures. The proportion of adults who were obese – with a BMI of 30 or more – increased by ten percentage points during the period, from 17% to 27%.