The Food & Grocery Council welcomes the Government’s interest in food and beverage manufacturing, and looks forward to sharing the success of our members’ reformulation and innovation work, and working constructively to see what more can be done to help Kiwis make healthier choices, says Chief Executive Katherine Rich.

“Our member companies are responsive to New Zealand consumers, and the No 1 consumer trend over the past five years has been for food and drinks that are lower in salt, fat or sugar, or in a ‘better for you’ category.

“The industry is serious about the issue of reformulation to lower levels of salt, fat and sugar in products. Over the past 10 years, FGC members have reformulated and launched low- or no-sugar variants of all the main beverage brands and developed many new low- or no-sugar options.

“There are more low- or no-sugar products on the market now than at any time in New Zealand’s history, and the work continues, with sugar reduction programmes for current products and new product development.

“In the juice category, consumers have enjoyed the recent launches of reduced-sugar Just Juice and Keri. The move to low- or no-sugar options is borne out in sales data, too, as Kiwis choose healthier options.

“The reformulation work has not just been for sugar. In the breakfast cereal and bread categories there have also been significant reductions in sodium. This was as a result of the Ministry of Health contracting the Heart Foundation to work alongside the industry.

“The Health Star Rating System shared by New Zealand and Australia was developed by government, officials, public health and industry working together. We hope the Ministry for Primary Industries will soon brief the Hon David Clark on how the Health Star algorithm works. Advice that he’s received, that the system “cancels out” sugar, is not correct. In fact, it’s harsh on sugar content. It’s important to understand that some products will continue to have a higher sugar rating particularly when they contain fruit or honey.”

See NZ Herald story with Minister’s comment here