Nestlé to give global Maggi brand a clean label revamp

© Nestlé

Nestlé aims to “transform” the global Maggi brand by 2020 by cutting salt, swapping modified starches for simple ones and removing artificial emulsifiers and thickeners, it says.

By swapping salt for potassium, it hopes to lower sodium levels in the Maggi range by 10% between now and 2020. 

“In general we are removing ingredients consumers cannot easily understand such as modified starches, artificial emulsifiers, thickeners and preservatives and replacing them with simpler, more recognisable ingredients,” a spokesperson for the company said.

“The Kitchen Cupboard initiative is about using ingredients consumers can understand and feel good about when reading the back-of-pack list such as simple spices, vegetables, herbs, salt, oils, flours, starches, and natural flavours.”

This means swapping modified starches with simple wheat, rice, potato, corn, pea starches or using tomato powder to create texture in tomato-based recipes.

“It can also be ingredients created through transformations based on culinary know-how such as fermentation, roasting and so on.”

The approach is based on consumer perception and acceptance, the spokesperson said, which may vary across countries – “exactly like cuisines styles and cultures” – meaning the same ingredients may not be targeted for reformulation in the same countries.

The Swiss multinational said it expects to see a growth of as much as 3 – 5% as a direct result of the clean label, better-for-you product changes.

The Maggi brand has been undergoing continuous changes to improve its composition, and these further commitments contribute to the company's aim to add at least 750 million portions of vegetables and at least 300 million portions of fibre-rich grains, pulses, nuts and seeds worldwide by 2020. 

The vegetable content in the vegetable bouillon for the Swiss market has increased four-fold in recent years while a version of Maggi noodles with added oat fibres was recently launched in Malaysia. Maggi’s sister brand in Poland, Winiary, and its beetroot soups have also seen oats added to its products.

Nestlé also fortifies Maggi cubes with essential micronutrients in regions where malnutrition is rife such as Central and West Africa. In 2015, the company sold 110 billion Maggi cubes fortified with iodine, iron or vitamin A and it aims to increase this to 120 billion by 2020.

Nutrition logos on the way

Nestlé is one of six companies, along with Coca-Cola, Mars, Mondelez, PepsiCo and Unilever, that pledged earlier this year to add nutrition logos modelled on the UK’s traffic light label to their European portfolios.

A joint statement by the six firms said it was important for consumers to have a meaningful, consistent and single nutrition labelling scheme across Europe, in compliance with the existing EU regulation.

The end goal is to put in place a robust nutrition labelling scheme that helps consumers make balanced and mindful choices,” they said, adding that a proliferation of national schemes adds to consumer confusion.

The companies did not give details of the nutrient profiles to be used but did say the the traffic light colours would be determined based on portion sizes rather than 100 g servings, prompting criticism from public health campaigners and other stakeholders.

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