So you want to make your food product healthier? That’s where I come in - Joanne Burns

Poor dietary health and obesity is a huge public health challenge in Scotland, with 66 per cent of adults being overweight or obese. The food and drink industry is committed to playing its part to improve the health of the nation.

Joanne Burns, Reformulation for Health Manager, Food and Drink Federation Scotland
Joanne Burns, Reformulation for Health Manager, Food and Drink Federation Scotland

We recently carried out research with Levercliff, an independent food and drink business consultancy, where we found that 89 per cent of Scottish people have at least one health goal and are actively seeking healthier food. This shows that messages around the importance of a healthy balanced diet are getting through.

Reformulation is rated as one of the most effective ways the food and drink industry can help to target poor dietary health and obesity. This is where a product is made healthier by amending a recipe, providing clearer information on portion size or changing the way it is prepared.

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The research looked at consumer attitudes towards health and wellbeing and what drives them when purchasing food. It was great to see that 73 per cent of respondents felt that they would continue to buy the same amount or more from a company that reformulated to improve the healthiness of its products

The study also gave an insight into small to medium sized Scottish food manufacturers’ experiences and identified the key challenges. The majority of the 42 Scottish food businesses that took part in the survey have reformulated their products. Reducing salt, sugar and fat is the most successful way they have achieved this. More than half of these companies think their efforts have helped them attract new consumers.

However, there are barriers for companies that are considering changing their recipes – achieving a comparable taste and texture without increasing the cost of foods was found to be the biggest challenge. In Scotland, 95 per cent of food and drink companies are small to medium businesses. It can be very difficult for them to grapple with all these challenges. It is vital that they do so – to help the nation’s health, to enhance Scotland’s reputation for food and drink, and to keep up with changing consumer tastes.

That’s where I can help! Whether you are a food manufacturer, butcher, baker or ingredients manufacturer; or even a food service business such as a café or takeaway I can provide you with support to make your products healthier. This work is funded by the Scottish Government.

Public Health Minister, Joe FitzPatrick recently said: “Reformulation is an important way we can support improvements in our diet and help people maintain a healthy weight. In Scotland, the vast majority of food and drink manufacturing businesses are SMEs so they have a key role to play. We recognise the challenges reformulation can present but also the significant opportunities as consumer demand for healthier options grows. That is why we have invested £200,000 to support SMEs overcome these challenges.

“I am delighted the Scottish Government is working in partnership with FDF Scotland to deliver this programme – providing the tools and tailored support Scottish SMEs need to help them make reformulation a success.”

To help companies start their reformulation journey we have created a Reformulation for Health advice tool with Levercliff. Food and drink businesses can complete the tool for bespoke advice and support to make your products healthier. Once you have completed the tool I will get in touch with you to develop your bespoke reformulation action plan.

We are delivering training courses for food businesses in partnership with Queen Margaret University and the Scotland Food & Drink opportunities fund. These sessions will be tailored to support Scottish food producers to make their products healthier, focusing on sector specific challenges such as reducing sugar in cakes and biscuits.

If food and drink businesses are interested in finding out more about how we can support you please get in touch. Not only will you be meeting consumer demand, you will also be helping to improve the health of your local communities.

Joanne Burns, Reformulation for Health Manager, Food and Drink Federation Scotland

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