CGF celebrates healthy reformulation of 180,000 products in 2016

© iStock/Antonio Diaz

Manufacturers made over 180,000 consumer goods products healthier in 2016 by reducing salt and sugar or adding whole grain and vitamins, according to a report by the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF).

The global survey and report, published in conjunction with Deloitte, covers both retailers and consumer goods companies, including manufacturers of personal care products.

It said that some 75% of responding members, out of a total of 400, carried out some form of product improvement last year.

Sodium and sugar were the most often targeted for removal in products while whole grains and vitamins were the most common nutrients to be added to food and beverages. The most common form of reformulation for personal care products was removing parabens.

"Companies are showing progress in displaying eight key nutrients [sodium, sugar, saturated, fat, trans-fat, whole grains, vitamins parabens for personal care products and omega-3] on product packaging and in displaying product usage for personal care and hygiene products. However, significantly fewer are including Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) for energy on front of pack labeling," said the report.

Over three-quarters (77%) of food and beverage manufacturers and retailers reported including eight key nutrients on at least 81% of products, up from 71% in 2015.

Meanwhile 68% of food manufacturers and retailers reported including GDA for energy front-of-pack labeling for at least some portion of their product portfolio, although CGF did not ask how many use other front of pack systems.

Nestlé chairman Paul Bulcke, president and the CEO of Dutch retailer Ahold Delhaize, Dick Boer, released a joint statement welcoming the fact that CGF members

were making visible efforts to improve health and wellness. 

“That said, this is an ongoing journey and we strongly encourage all companies to join the collective effort,” they added.

“The CGF board of directors has long recognised how critical health and wellness are to the stability and prosperity of nations. We have made it one of our priorities so that we can lead positive action for the benefit of those we serve every day, everywhere.”

Director of health and wellness at CGF Sharon Bligh said the report showed industry was making good progress without mandatory targets to make food healthier. 

“Targets wouldn’t necessarily create a level playing field. In fact, in my experience, they are much harder for many smaller companies to meet. One of our objectives is to move the entire industry forward together.

“We could set aggressive targets and the big multinationals would probably meet them, but what about the smaller players? They need help to develop, understand and implement the right strategies. We want the leaders to be part of that process and share best practices.  At the CGF we want to go beyond the basics of compliance, we want to build flagship moments for our industry.”

Bligh rejected the suggestion that if reformulation targets were mandatory, the 180,000 figure would be much higher.

“Our data shows that members are improving the overall ‘health’ of their portfolios,” she told us. “The reality is some companies have indulgent products, which meet a consumer need. We need to help the consumer products industry understand that everyone has an important role to play, be it in product reformulation or by supporting consumer education on portion control and labelling. The goal is to help consumers to be better informed and to make healthier choices.”

Now in its fourth year, the CGF’s Health & Wellness initiative was first launched in 2010. Last year also saw a 30% increase in members reporting on their actions compared to 2015.

CGF's 400 members have a combined sales value of €3.5 trillion.

Are you interested in reducing sugar in your products? Are sugar taxes biting your business? Think firms need a regulatory kick?

Whether you’re a manufacturer, ingredient supplier, R&D scientist or public health expert, get involved in the debate with FoodNavigator's online event on sugar reduction. Sign up here .


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