A 20% sugar cut by 2020? ‘It won’t be possible,’ says FDF

By Niamh Michail

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/bogdandreava
© iStock/bogdandreava

Related tags sugar reduction Nutrition Food Sugar

A 20% sugar cut across all food categories by 2020 – as per voluntary targets set by the UK government – is not technically possible, nor would it be acceptable to consumers, industry lobby the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has said.

The sugar reduction and reformulation programme, which forms part of the UK government’s childhood obesity action plan, was announced by Public Health England (PHE), the government’s public health advisory body, in September last year.

In addition to proposed reductions in salt, saturated fat and calorie levels, it also set voluntary targets to cut the amount of sugar by one fifth by 2020 with a 5% reduction in the first year.

This could be achieved in a number of ways such as removing sugar from products, reducing portion size or shifting purchasing towards lower sugar alternatives, it said.

Tim Rycroft, corporate affairs director at FDF said: “There is no question that obesity levels in the UK are unacceptably high. Physical inactivity is a factor, but for many the problem overwhelmingly is with the government as it develops its highly ambitious sugar reduction drive."

But he added: “We have said consistently that a 20% sugar reduction by 2020 across all foods covered won't be technically possible or acceptable to UK consumers. Instead, we believe the success of this work will hinge on the level of sustained engagement coming from the entire food industry.

“That's why the involvement of all players – manufacturers, retailers and out of home operators – is so crucial to securing public support for the level of change we're being asked to make.”

Rycroft’s comments come is anticipation of specific category targets, expected to be announced in the coming weeks for nine categories: biscuits; breakfast cereals; cakes (and breakfast foods); chocolate confectionery; sweet confectionery; yoghurts; ice cream; sweet spreads and puddings.

Are you interested in reducing sugar in your products? Are sugar taxes biting your business? Think firms need a regulatory kick?

Whether you’re a manufacturer, ingredient supplier, R&D scientist or public health expert, get involved in the debate with FoodNavigator's online event on sugar reduction. Sign up here​ .


Rycroft called for the government to work with trade groups, companies and research bodies to help companies to deliver under the programme. “This could include increased funding for research or additional open access technical guidance for small to medium sized companies.”

Last year FDF published a guide on sugar reformulation​ in conjunction with Leatherhead Food Research with detailed per-category advice on how to approach the issue.

“If you are reformulating cakes, biscuits and pastries (referred to in regulations as ‘fine bakery wares’), you need to be aware that decorations, coatings and fillings can fall under category 5.4 whilst fine bakery wares fall under category 7.2,” ​it says. “Both of these have separate lists of permitted additives, so it may be possible to achieve the desired reduction of sugars by modifying the filling whilst leaving the pastry component alone.”

A low sugar claim – and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer - may only be made where the product contains no more than 5 g of sugars per 100 g for solids or 2.5 g of sugars per 100 ml for liquids.

Sugar free claims can be made when a product contains a maximum amount of 0.5 g per 100 g or 100 ml.

The UK’s sugar tax was confirmed in the budget earlier this month​, confirming a two-tier levy. For added sugar drinks with a total sugar content of 5 g or more per 100 ml will be set at 18 pence per litre; and those with 8 g or more per 100 ml will be set at 24 pence per litre.

Related news

Show more

Related products

show more

Download Sweet Trends Report 2024 by Südzucker

Download Sweet Trends Report 2024 by Südzucker

Content provided by Südzucker AG | 01-Jul-2024 | White Paper

For the fourth time, Südzucker has conducted a research study on consumer needs and purchase drivers in processed food & drinks, which will be another...

Turn up the heat on your culinary creations

Turn up the heat on your culinary creations

Content provided by Givaudan | 17-Jun-2024 | Application Note

From fiery reds, oranges, and yellows to succulent browns and charred blacks, natural colours can bring the ‘heat’ to your culinary creations. Our Culinary...

Your partner in plant-based meat alternatives

Your partner in plant-based meat alternatives

Content provided by ADM | 15-May-2024 | White Paper

Harness our technical expertise and world-class portfolio of high-quality ingredients and formulations to create elevated, chef-driven, plant-based meat...

Related suppliers

Follow us


View more