McVitie’s hails sugar reformulation ‘breakthrough’

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: Getty/Sergi Gnatiuk
Pic: Getty/Sergi Gnatiuk

Related tags Sugar reformulation pladis Mcvitie's

McVitie’s is reducing sugar in nine of its best-selling UK biscuits by up to 10%, in what it calls a breakthrough in sugar reduction that doesn’t compromise taste.

The reformulated McVitie’s Original Digestives contain 9% less sugar and 5% less salt. The brand said it tested the new-recipe biscuits with McVitie’s ‘superfans’ to prove the reduction in sugar could not be tasted and used a ‘mechanical dunking arm’ in a testing lab to ensure dunking was not affected. It said the biscuits have the same ‘unique sweet and savoury taste combination’.

The reformulated biscuits include McVitie’s Original Digestives, McVitie’s Rich Tea, McVitie’s Chocolate Digestives (Milk and Dark), McVitie’s Original Hobnobs, McVitie’s Chocolate Hobnobs (Milk and Dark), McVitie’s Caramel Digestives and McVitie’s Ginger Nuts, which make up over 50% of all McVitie’s sales in the UK.

According to pladis, which owns the British brand McVitie’s, reducing sugar in nine of the biscuits will remove 785 tonnes of sugar from Brits’ diets every year.

The first of the reformulated biscuits to have hit the shelves is McVitie’s Original Digestives with 9% less sugar and 5% less salt.

McVitie’s Original Digestives now contain just 15.1g of sugar per 100g, compared to 16.6g of sugar per 100g previously. Public Health England’s recommendations for manufacturers is to target 26.2g of sugar per 100g.

In addition:

  • McVitie’s Rich Tea biscuits now contain just 18.5g of sugar per 100g;
  • McVitie’s Original Hobnobs now contain 22.9g of sugar per 100g;
  • McVitie’s Milk Chocolate Digestives now contain 28.5g sugar per 100g;
  • McVitie’s Dark Chocolate Digestives now contain just 26.6g sugar per 100g.

The company said the new recipes were achieved through a careful re-balancing of ingredients to reduce sugar and salt, in order to get below, or as close to, Public Health England’s target as possible while maintaining McVitie’s distinctive taste.

According to Pladis, its Research and Development team tested the change with hundreds of consumers, including a group of self-confessed McVitie’s ‘superfans’, to ensure that the reduction in sugar could not be spotted. They even made sure the biscuits tasted exactly the same when dunked in a cup of tea and used a ‘mechanical dunking arm’ in the laboratory to record the time to break when dunked.

David Murray, managing director of pladis UK & Ireland, said: “For years, we have been working on reducing sugar in the nation’s favourite biscuits. It is an exceptionally complex process because our fundamental philosophy is that we will absolutely not compromise on taste or the quality of ingredients.

“99.1% of all households in the UK buy biscuits and McVitie’s continues to be the number one biscuit brand in the UK, so we know that if we are to truly help the nation lead healthier lives, we need to take sugar out of our biggest-selling biscuits. However, we have an incredibly loyal fan base who have grown up eating our biscuits, so if they no longer liked the taste then the whole programme would fail.

“By testing our new lower-sugar biscuits with hundreds of consumers to ensure that they cannot tell the difference, and by implementing a process of careful rebalancing of ingredients, we have reduced sugar and salt while maintaining the unique sweet and savoury taste combination that makes McVitie’s biscuits so distinctive.”

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