20% sugar reduction target ‘not technically possible’ by 2020

Food and Drink Federation Tim Rycroft sugar reduction
Rycroft: Industry will not be able to meet 2020 target
22/03/2017 - 13:10
Food manufacturers will be unable to meet the Government’s target of a 20% cut in sugar across nine key categories by the 2020 deadline, according to an industry spokesman.

Looking ahead to the launch of the Sugar Reduction Programme by Public Health England (PHE), Tim Rycroft, corporate affairs director at the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said: “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.

“Responsible companies will work with Public Health England to lower sugars in recipes and, where that isn’t technically possible or acceptable to consumers, to lower portion sizes and encourage switching to lower-sugars alternatives.”

PHE’s reformulation programme looks at the top nine categories of food contributing to the intake of sugar by children up to age 18 – biscuits, breakfast cereals, cakes and morning goods, chocolate confectionery, sweet confectionery, yoghurts, ice-cream, sweet spreads, and puddings.

Rycroft added: “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 excess calories in the diet.

“With many of these calories coming from sugars, we have been supporting the Government as it develops its highly ambitious sugar reduction drive.

“We know our products have a special place in people’s lives and that we must keep our customers at the heart of this work.

“We all have a role to play in giving this process the best chance of success. We believe that Government working in collaboration with trade bodies, companies, research bodies and others can help enable solutions 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, building on the material which FDF launched last summer.

“We were pleased to see the revision of the research and development (R&D) tax credits system, something we had asked government for and we support, announced in this year’s Budget.”

PHE has carrying out a series of meetings with industry – retailers, manufacturers, the out-of-home sector (pubs, restaurants, coffee shops, contract and public sector caterers), to see what the sugar reduction plans should look like.

It will publish the results of that consultation in April.

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