Food industry and government efforts to encourage healthier diets in Singapore through product reformulation paying dividends
Food Industry Asia (FIA) in partnership with IGD released a report on the reformulation landscape in Singapore on 12 June 2018. Titled ‘Healthier Product Reformulation in Singapore’, the report which was previewed at the Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit surveyed consumers and food businesses to understand behavioural trends and attitudes towards product innovation and reformulation, industry priorities and challenges faced by food companies developing healthier products in Singapore.
The report highlighted that Singaporeans took a proactive role in leading a healthier lifestyle, with 98% of those surveyed saying they were trying to improve their diets, for instance by increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables and reducing sugar. Nutrition plays a major part in consumer purchases, and 90% of respondents said they looked at nutrition information on packs before making a decision. These purchasing decisions were driven largely by the Healthier Choice logo, which suggests that efforts by the government and food industry are effective in encouraging greater consumer awareness in driving healthier behaviours.
The report, which is the first of its kind in Singapore, showcases industry efforts to continuously improve product offerings providing healthier options. These findings will be valuable for industry and government bodies to assess progress and recognise the areas of support businesses are seeking to further their reformulation efforts to advance the public health agenda.
The report also found that:
- Healthier product reformulation is widely accepted. 77% of Singapore consumers surveyed said they were happy if product recipes changed to make them healthier, provided taste is not compromised. 74% felt that food companies should be tweaking recipes to make products healthier.
- The reformulation agenda is shifting. Previously, reducing salt/sodium and trans-fat levels were priorities for the food industry. Now, reformulation is spread across a wide range of nutrients in line with broader nutrition agendas. The survey highlighted that sugar reduction was a top priority for companies, along with fortifying products nutrients such as protein and fibre.
- Governments play an important role in encouraging food companies to develop healthier products. 92% of companies said they would be encouraged to conduct more R&D to support reformulation if the government offered financial and fiscal initiatives. This included the Healthy Ingredient Development Scheme which was highlighted as a good initiative to capitalise on further.
The full report can be downloaded HERE.
Making our Case for a Little Sweetness
With the pressing need to reduce unhealthy levels of sugar consumption among consumers, the food & beverage (F&B) industry has invested much of its efforts and resources in developing sugar alternatives – be it through innovative technologies, or by making adjustments to existing recipes to match or improve the taste profiles of products gradually, so as to ensure that customers are not caught by surprise.
This has fuelled a growth in demand for ingredients that impart sweetness with significantly less or no calories, resulting in the innovation of low/non-calorie sweeteners (LNCS). LNCS enable food manufacturers to provide a wide variety of food products with varying caloric values and taste profiles.
While LNCS could serve as good alternatives to sugar, their collective reputation has constantly been challenged. In light of how they are the subject of intense public debate and scrutiny, Food Industry Asia (FIA) has set out to build a platform for wide-ranging evidence-based narratives around sweeteners and sugars.
An FIA white paper, titled “The Case for a Little Sweetness: The Role of Low/Non-Calorie Sweeteners on Health”, serves to do just that, by debunking the health- and safety-related myths sweeteners have been commonly linked with. It is the first in a series of communication tools FIA is developing with subject matter experts, to explore how sweeteners impact diet and health.
As part of its efforts to address the misinformation that has driven the negative reputation of LNCS, FIA organised two information-sharing sessions in Indonesia and Sri Lanka last month, to address common concerns relating to the safety and health impacts of sweeteners.
You may download the full report from this LINK
2017 Global Nutrition Report
A better nourished world is a better world. Yet the 2017 Global Nutrition Report shows that, despite the significant steps the world has taken towards improving nutrition and associated health burdens over recent decades, nutrition is still a large-scale and universal problem. Too many people are being left behind from the benefits of improved nutrition. Yet when we look at the wider context, the opportunity for change has never been greater. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by 193 countries in 2015, offer a tremendous window of opportunity to reverse or stop these trends.
The 2017 Global Nutrition Report shows there are five core areas of development that run through the SDGs which nutrition can contribute to, and in turn, benefit from:
- sustainable food production
- health systems
- equity and inclusion
- peace and stability.
Through these areas, the report finds that improving nutrition can have a powerful multiplier effect across the SDGs. Indeed, it indicates that it will be a challenge to achieve any SDG without addressing nutrition. The report shows that there is an exciting opportunity to achieving global nutrition targets while catalysing other development goals through ‘double duty’ actions, which tackle more than one form of malnutrition at once. Likewise, potential ‘triple duty actions’, which tackle malnutrition and other development challenges, could yield multiple benefits across the SDGs.
If readers take away one message from this report, it should be that ending malnutrition in all its forms will catalyse improved outcomes across the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The challenge is huge, but it is dwarfed by the opportunity.
You may download the full report from this LINK