12 January - 20 June 2016

Retailers and manufacturers have achieved a 2% reduction in sugar and calories in products - PHE progress report

Public Health England (PHE) have published a progress report on the governments sugar reduction programme. At the same time they have also produced new guidelines for the drinks industry to reduce the amount of sugar children consume through juice and milk based drinks.

Public Health England (PHE) have published a progress report on the governments sugar reduction programme.  At the same time they have also produced new guidelines for the drinks industry to reduce the amount of sugar children consume through juice and milk based drinks.

The target set by the government, to reduce children obesity, was for the food industry to reduce 20% of sugar from a range of products by 2020, with a reduction of 5% in the first year.  PHE note that so far retailers and manufacturers have achieved a 2% reduction in sugar reduction and calories in products.  PHE note that progress has been made in 5 out of the 8 categories where measurement has taken place: yogurts, fromage frais, breakfast cereal and sweet spreads and sauces have all met or exceeded the initial 5% sugar reduction ambition and sugar levels are generally the same across all sectors.  However, for the eating out of home sector, portion sizes in products are still the same and, compared to retailers and manufacturer branded products, are on average more than double the size. PHE also report that retailers and manufacturers have reduced calories by 5% in ice cream, lollies and sorbets, and yogurt, for example, reducing portion size.

The report states that of the top 20 brands ranked by sugar sales, 33% showed a decrease in the sugar content, whilst 56% showed no change in the sugar content with approximately 12% showing an increase in sugar content.  Out of the top 20 brands which showed a sugar reduction, only 13% showed a decrease in both calories and the saturated fat content, with 6% showing an increase in both.

Data on the progress of the sugar tax levy has revealed that people are purchasing drinks that have sugar levels below 5g per 100g.  Whilst juice and milk drinks are excluded from the soft drinks levy, PHE report that by mid-2021 the drinks industry is encouraged to:  reduce sugar in juice-based drinks (excluding single juice) by 5%; cap all juice-based drinks (including blended juices, smoothies and single juices) likely to be consumed in one go to 150 calories; reduce sugar in milk (and milk substitutes) -based drinks by 20% and cap products likely to be consumed in one go to 300 calories.

The Sugar reduction: juice and milk-based drinks technical guidance report, published at the same time as the progress report, lays out the above targets of achieving the sugar reduction in these products.  They note that this guidance applies to all of the drinks sectors including retailers, manufacturers and those businesses that provide the food and drink that we buy and eat out of the home, take away or have delivered. The guidance suggests that targets can be met by reducing the levels of sugar present in products; reducing the number of calories in, and/or portion size of products likely to be consumed in a single occasion; and shifting consumer purchasing towards lower/no added sugar products.  The “Juice-based drinks” category includes fruit and vegetable 100% juice, juice smoothies, juice smoothies with dairy, where juice is the larger %, fruit juice with water combination drinks, and Nut and plant sap water.  Products in scope for the “milk-based drink” category include pre-packaged milk-based drinks, drinks made with milk substitutes, milkshake powders and syrups, coffee and tea powders (sachets) and pods, hot chocolate and malt drinks (powders, syrups and pods), while those in scope for the “out of home” category includes coffee and tea and drinks made with milk substitutes, milkshakes and frappes.

The next progress report is due to be published in Spring 2019, which PHE report will have a clearer indication of whether the rate of progress has continued. They also note that continuing work in the “wider reformulation programme” includes the setting of calorie reduction guidelines and reviewing progress on salt reduction.

RSSL's Product and Ingredient Innovation Team, has considerable experience in re-formulating products to provide more healthy options including low salt, low sugar versions and using pre- and probiotics.  Using RSSL can help speed up your development cycle considerably. To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com


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