Huge effort into reformulating food, drink

12 October 2017

Manufacturers have put huge, ongoing effort into reformulating popular food and beverage products to remove sugar, fat or salt, Katherine Rich says.

‚Äč"Blaming the environment is an academic theory that only takes you so far. There are many people who live in the same environment and aren't obese, which indicates that food selection, genetics and activity levels are key factors as well."

Mrs Rich is responding to an OECD "obesity update" that shows nearly one-in-three Kiwis is obese and the only fatter nations are the US and Mexico. New Zealand has been in third place since at least 2007, but then 26.5 adults were obese. Now it’s 30.7 per cent.

"There are now many hundreds more healthier options available to shoppers than there have ever been,” Mrs Rich says.

“Some of these changes have been years in development as companies trial different recipes and ingredients with consumers to make sure the improved product suits their tastes.

"FGC believes that to successfully beat obesity, every sector of society needs to adopt a culture of healthy eating, moderation, and activity."

Mrs Rich was asked by Fairfax Media to respond to the report by providing insight into how food manufacturers are reformulating foods, or making other changes to include healthier options for people. Here is her full response:

The food industry agrees that obesity is at a concerning level and it is working very hard to provide consumers with healthy options.

In recent years, manufacturers have put a huge amount of work into reformulating popular products – both food and beverage - to remove sugar, fat or salt, and this work is ongoing. There are now many hundreds more healthier options available to shoppers than there have ever been. Innovations in food technology are enabling companies to offer more and healthier choices. Some of these changes have been years in development as companies trial different recipes and ingredients with consumers to make sure the improved product suits their tastes.

Blaming the environment is an academic theory that only takes you so far. There are many people who live in the same environment and aren’t obese, which indicates that food selection, genetics and activity levels are key factors as well.

The industry was one of the drivers behind the introduction of the Health Star Rating scheme, which is designed to make it easier to identify healthier products. Many companies have reformulated products to receive a higher rating under the scheme. More than 2500 products on supermarket shelves now display the Health Star Rating logo.

The industry is also working hard on improving public information and resources as part of the Government’s ‘Childhood Obesity Plan’. One recent project by the Food and Grocery Council is a video written and presented by a dietitian and registered nutritionist and based on the Ministry of Health’s National Food and Nutrition Guidelines.

FGC believes that to successfully beat obesity, every sector of society needs to adopt a culture of healthy eating, moderation, and activity.

 

Here is Fairfax’s report