Confectionery and bakery face key reformulation challenges

One of the greatest challenges now being faced by the confectionery and snacks sector is how to respond in developing ranges that are perceived as offering healthier options.

As Public Health England’s (PHE) latest drive to cut families calorie intake by 20% by 2024 has shown, this is not an issue that’s unique to our segment of the food market – it’s a matter for the entire food and drinks market to offer tangible solutions.

The statistics produced by the government body have been particularly alarming, with £6 billion a year being spent on treating obesity-related conditions in the UK alone.

This is a pattern that is being seen across Europe and the rest of the world, though Britain appears to be suffering more than most in terms of public dietary habits.

Confectionery and snacks clearly have their place in the market in terms of being perceived as indulgent occasional treats, but it is perhaps fair to say the entire food industry has a responsibility to play its part in developing a meaningful response.

As far as the UK is concerned, this was seen recently with the emergence of reduced sugar KitKat bars being launched, as well as businesses such as Plamil with its So Free brand of no-added sugar chocolate confectionery offering greater choice to consumers.

Companies such as Cargill have pointed the way with research studies that have indicated that it is indeed possible to produce confectionery and snack ranges that taste as good as they look, yet with less sugar and calorie content.

From government perspective, a sugar reduction target of 20% has been set on industry to respond and a similar timeframe has now been set in motion for a focus on calories, but it remains to be seen whether this can be met within the industry.

If companies such Nestle, which has been working on products with significantly reduced successfully deliver on ambitious plans (which it has already partially achieved with its Rowntree’s range having a 30% sugar reduction), this will play a major part in satisfying demand for healthier ranges.

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