Too much sugar. Too little imagination.
We’ve got a challenge for you.
Head to your kitchen cupboards. Open them up and find the sugariest food in there. Now how much sugar has it got in it? Right, well slash that figure by 20%. That’s better isn’t it.
Well, that’s exactly what Public Health England are trying to do. Last month, PHE released their official 2020 sugar reduction targets. Working across 9 food groups, including confectionary, puddings, and ice cream, PHE are calling on food manufacturers to reduce the sugar content in their products by 20% by 2020.
PHE say that achieving this will be beneficial for both the nation’s health and its economy. And we couldn’t agree more. Whilst hundreds of millions of people across the world suffer undernourishment, the UK is in the grips of an obesity crisis, with a staggering 1 in 3 children starting secondary school overweight or obese.
However, we're not sure if these targets will tackle the full issue of excessive sugar consumption.
For one, it doesn't resolve the problem of inadequate economic access to lower sugar foods, something we've been lobbying the government about in our national health campaign #DontTaxHealthy.
And also, we're not confident that these targets will actually work. Let’s look at the facts.
Firstly, what’s the punishment if a manufacturer doesn’t reduce their product’s sugar content by 20%? Yep, you’ve got it. Absolutely nothing.
Secondly, how are the UK’s food manufacturers going to do this?
Within the industry, the popular consensus seems to be to reduce the portion sizes of single-serve products. That’s right. Forget innovation, just sell less for the same price. You can read Charlie’s thoughts on Unilever’s announcement that they were doing just this here.
Another idea touted has been for food manufacturers to actively push the products in their range which contain the lowest amounts of sugar. A good idea, but we’re sceptical. Large multinational manufactures growing a social conscience at the expense of their sales figures? We’ll wait in hope.
But something’s missing. Innovation. Whilst the UK’s large food manufacturers are happy to discuss portion sizes and marketing campaigns, they’re less inclined to talk innovation. And this is because most believe that reducing sugar content will mean a compromise on taste and texture. Well, we disagree. With 60-70% fewer calories and sugar than regular ice cream, Oppo is Sugarwise approved and proves that great taste and texture aren't reliant on sugar.
We’re calling on the UK’s food manufacturers to change their mindset. It’s essential for the health of the nation.
Reducing sugar whilst maintaining taste is possible. Sometimes, you just need some imagination.
Until others catch up, at least we can all enjoy some Oppo.