Supermarkets lead the way on calorie and sugar reduction, claims British Retail Consortium

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For well over a decade the UK’s supermarkets have led the way on efforts to reduce the amount of calories in their own brand ranges and to ensure that there is accessible and clear information available on the amount of sugar in food, particularly in ready meals, snacks and desserts, reports the British Retail Consortium.

Supermarkets are still working hard to find new ways to reduce calories and sugar, taking millions of tonnes of sugar out of ordinary everyday food increases ranges of healthy choice food.

Supermarkets have been at the forefront of developing the nationally recommended scheme for front of pack labelling which they use on all their own brand products as well as on in-store recipe cards and magazines and on websites, where there is also plenty of healthy eating advice.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability, said: “No one has worked harder than our members to give customers more healthy choices when they shop for food and eat at home. We will continue to look for new ways to help tackle unhealthy eating and obesity at the same time as offering delicious and nutritious food for our customers in all our price ranges.”

The BRC has highlighted recent achievement in reducing calories and sugar in food, taken from a long list of examples of change:

  • All retailers have agreed to adopt the national front of pack nutrition information recommendation. The total amount of sugar is indicated by a colour coded, so consumers can clearly see if a product is high in sugar
  • All retailers have been improving the composition of their products. This includes reducing the amounts of sugar where possible
  • Aldi has extended its product offer of no added sugar drinks
  • Asda is reviewing all products containing added sugar as part of their reformulation strategy and continue to look for ways to remove and reduce levels of sugar where possible without compromising quality. Recently nine tonnes of sugar have been removed from condiments and table sauces and 1.7 tonnes from yoghurt drinks. Asda has reviewed their soft drinks offering and 70% of private label products are now no added sugar and there are plans to delist all added sugar standard squashes later this year
  • Boots ensures its own label food and drink ranges are developed to support a healthy diet by working to exacting nutrition standards that control calories or portion size and levels of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt. All Boots Shapers drinks are sugar free or low in sugar
  • Co-op will remove 100 million teaspoons of sugar from its own brand squash range by the end of 2014
  • Lidl has removed sweets, chocolate and fizzy drinks from checkouts
  • Marks & Spencer clearly highlights the healthier choices across its range of food. M&S has re-launched its Eat Well sunflower logo to help customers easily identify the healthy options across its food ranges; this includes new healthy snacks and breads designed around fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and wholegrain. All products with the Eat Well logo meet nutrition guidelines, based on the Eat Well plate, for maximum calorie, fat, saturated fat, added sugar and salt
  • The majority of Morrisons own brand soft drinks contain no added sugar and Morrisons is working to reduce the amount of sugar in its standard lines
  • Sainsbury’s has made it a priority to help its customers make healthier choices and was the first to use colour coded traffic light symbols on their labels, back in 2005 so customers have been able to identify lower sugar options for nearly a decade. Sainsbury’s continues to reformulate its products, for example, on soft drinks. Sainsbury’s is launching new chilled juice drinks including Fruit CocktailSummerfruits and Pomegranate & Blueberry juice, which have been reformulated to remove around 83.5 tonnes of sugar a year – about 329 million fewer calories a year. September 2014 will see the re-launch of Sainsbury’s Own Brand soft drinks and an expected additional 633 tonnes of sugar will come out of customer baskets a year as a result. Between 2011-13 there were sugar reductions in 11 Sainsbury’s own brand high juice squashes of between 4-10 per cent, equivalent to removing 15 tonnes of sugar and it tripled the number of no-added-sugar carbonated drinks, from four to 12
  • Tesco has removed 3 billion calories from their soft drinks and juices in the last two years. Tesco will remove confectionary from all of their checkouts by the end of 2014
  • Waitrose has removed 7.1 tonnes of sugar from their chilled fruit juices. This will result in a 28 million calorie saving over the next 12 months