Consuming too much sugar can have negative health effects, among them weight gain, blood sugar problems and an increased risk of heart disease.
As part of its health and wellness thrust, Nestlé has made a formal pledge to reduce sugar, salt and trans-fat in all of its products. Between 2000 and 2013, the company reduced the amount of table sugar in its products by 32 per cent, with a real focus on children’s foods. Between 2014 and 2016 alone that translated into the elimination of 39,000 tonnes of sugar out of Nestlé’s products.
“Nestlé’ bases its nutritional criteria on scientific and public health recommendations from the World Health Organisation and other top international and national authorities. Every one of Nestlé’s products must meet Nestlé’s global standards. The company does not do options with more sugar,” head of Corporate Communications Nestle Trinidad Limited Denise D’Abadie told Newsday.
She said Nestlé TT has made significant progress in the reduction of sugar in its market-leading products as part of its commitment to provide individuals and families with healthier choices while retaining the same great taste.
“Sugar reduction in Trinidad and Tobago has been achieved via product renovations affecting the company’s milks and juice drinks. The company has also introduced new sugar-free products. And sugar content has been reduced to nine grammes total sugars or less per serving in all Nestlé-branded cereals.”
Nestlé’s new Orchard Calorie Conscious, which comes in orange and apple flavours, is specially formulated with a zero-calorie natural sweetener as well as fibre for added-value. The drink, D’Abadie said, is suitable for diabetics and people wanting to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. The product is was introduced in 2015 and has the endorsement of the Diabetes Association of TT. "Orchard has been in the Caribbean since 1976, so we know it’s our responsibility to ensure that all of our juices are nutritious. And we know that today’s consumers want healthy options for their families. That’s why, we took the big bold step of reformulating all of our popular Orchard juice beverages to reduce their sugar content by 33-50 per cent, to meet and exceed new, healthier standards… while ensuring great taste."
D’Abadie said the company had set a deadline that by the end of 2015 all products for children had to be compliant with its sugar-reduction goal. “If the products were not reformulated in time, Nestlé decided it would simply stop selling them until they were compliant. This affected the smaller ‘lunchbox’ style drinks.” Family products, such as the one-litre packs had to be compliant by the end of 2016, and the deadline was met.
“Nestlé has reformulated most of the products which it manufactures in Trinidad and Tobago to meet international guidelines. Renovation applied to all locally-manufactured products with added sugar. The only exceptions are Nestlé’s 100 per cent juices and its white and culinary milks, which already have no added sugar.” Additionally, the sugar content in flavoured milks Choc Nut, Peanut Punch and Eggnog have been reduced.
According to D’Abadie, there are eight steps in the product renovation process.
Creating a special team to work on the project.
Identifying all the products that need to be reformulated to meet global guidelines and assessing the product recipes to determine the changes that are necessary.
Creating recipes to achieve the target profile and to make sure the products are nutritionally compliant.
Using an internal taste panel to narrow down the selection to recipes to two prototypes.
Using a research company to create special consumer panels to try the products and choose one, explaining their preference.
At the same time as consumer testing is underway Nestlé tests for shelf life.
The final product is launched to the public.
Nestlé undertakes continuous monitoring of consumer feedback both through its customer care hotline and via social media. At different points the company may use those insights to reformulate in what is an ongoing process.
D’Abadie said removing sugar is not an easy or cheap process and it requires commitment. “Keep in mind that sugar has a unique taste profile. When you taste sugar you experience a gradual increase in sweetness and a gentle, relatively quick, tapered taste. Many alternative sweeteners offer a spike in sweetness and a lingering aftertaste. Sugar also affects the body of the product as well — sugar thickens the product so when you remove it you may need to counteract the loss of that effect through the use using of gums for example. Removing sugar also reduces the shelf life of the product, which has implications for the entire supply chain.”