The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) are working in partnership to develop a database of “sugar alternatives” that will be shared amongst their membership.
The organisations are inviting ingredient manufacturers, product specialists and researchers to submit details of products that may help companies reformulate. The FDF and BRC said they are looking for ingredients that will help sugar reduction, whilst enabling companies to maintain product quality, taste, product safety and shelf life.
Taking reformulation to ‘next level’
Andrea Martinez-Inchausti, deputy director of food policy at the BRC, told FoodNavigator that the initiative aims to help take the industry’s efforts to reformulate to the “next level”.
“Retailers and manufacturers have been reducing sugar for a number of years. However, to take the reduction to the next level, alternative ingredients to sugar need to be used. All companies were looking at it separately. Both BRC and FDF felt that coordinating this approach would make it easier for our members.”
The move is targeting large manufacturers and retailers as well as small- or medium-sized businesses. “All businesses want to improve the wholesomeness of their product without affecting flavour and texture. The technological challenges are slightly different depending on of the scale of production, the type of product produced and the manner in which the product is retailed,” Martinez-Inchausti noted.
The database will also boost “some of the ingredient suppliers who may be struggling to understand how to engage with a big company”, she suggested.
Through the list, the FDF and BRC want to bring together innovative “sugar alternatives” that appeal to consumer trends, such as clean labelling. “We have a good understanding of sweeteners as a substitute, but these are not always appropriate or acceptable to customers. We therefore need to investigate other options which will enable a substantial sugar and ideally calorie reduction,” Martinez-Inchausti explained.
Improving public health
The FDF and BRC said the food industry’s reformulation efforts aim to improve public health.
Kate Halliwell, nutrition and health manager at the FDF, explained: “FDF and our members are committed to playing our part in the fight against obesity. The food and drink industry has been on a positive journey for a number of years and this joint initiative with the BRC is the latest stage in the journey. We are confident this initiative will go a long way in supporting retailers and manufacturers in their sugar reduction efforts, leading to significant improvements in public health.”
The initiative follows the publication of Public Health England’s guidelines on sugar reduction and supports the UK government’s ambition laid out in the Childhood Obesity Plan to reduce sugar consumption by 20%.
Martinez-Inchausti said that to achieve this reformulation will be key. “A certain amount of sugar can be reduced by rebalancing [the] proportion of ingredients or looking at product composition, but to achieve a substantial reduction, which would be required to achieve the government ambitions to reduce sugar consumption by 20%, sugar needs to be replaced with other ingredients.”