Consumers across Europe are paying close attention to their health, and are increasingly conscious about the environmental impact of their purchase choices. ‘Good for me, good for the planet’ has emerged as a key trend.
“Consumers want a better understanding of what they eat and where the product is made,” explains Planque. “At the same time, they are not prepared to compromise on taste and pleasure. In fact some 64% of global consumers believe it is OK to enjoy indulgent treats as part of a healthy diet.”
For manufacturers, the race is on to formulate affordable products that taste good, contain clean label ingredients and deliver nutritional benefits. In a crowded and increasingly informed marketplace, products that boast sustainable, locally sourced ingredients offering health benefits will stand out.
Growing public awareness
The Nutri-Score front-of-pack system is one means by which manufacturers can communicate the nutritional value of their products in a clear and straightforward manner. The labelling nutritional system rates and shows the nutritional value of products from A to E, helping consumers to make an informed choice based on nutritional value.
“Nutri-Score is a science-based nutritional logo that has been subject to stakeholder consultations and consumer testing,” says Planque. “It provides clear information on nutritional value, and encourages food manufacturers to improve the nutritional value of their products through reformulation or innovation. A number of major brands and retailers have already adopted Nutri-Score, and others are on the way.”
The scoring relies on two assessments. The first covers factors that should be limited, such as calories, saturated fatty acids, sugars and sodium. The second covers positive health impacts, such as fibre and protein content. Manufacturers can consult a reference website to get a better understanding of the scoring system (which can be complex), and the rules to follow.
“Products with good nutritional qualities sell better,” says Planque. “But when Nutri-Score is used, market performances are even higher. One reason for this is that public awareness is increasing. A French government study in September 2020 found that 93% of consumers were aware of the label, with nine out of ten consumers finding Nutri-Score to be useful in understanding product nutritional quality.”
Reformulating with success
Tereos’ ingredients portfolio is available to help manufacturers use the Nutri-Score system to their advantage. The company offers a broad sweetness range, from sugar and liquid sweeteners to mid-caloric (Polyols) and zero calorie sweeteners (Stevia extract). The company also offers a range of complementarity solutions such as bulking agents, dietary fibres and proteins.
“These sustainable solutions are made from renewable materials available with specific sustainable certifications,” notes Planque. “We offer a reformulation programme named Sweet&You that combines our broad portfolio with formulation skills, to provide tailor-made products to our customers.”
For example, Actilight® scFOS, a prebiotic fibre combined with maltodextrin, has been used to help ice cream manufacturers reduce their sugar content by up to 60%, and their calorie content by up to 30%. This gives them a Nutri-score of A, while maintaining the product’s original sensory properties and stability. For cereal bar formulations, Actilight combined with Mylose syrup enables sugar content to be reduced by up to 60% and energy by up to 30%, again leading to a Nutri-Score of A.
“Nutri-Score answers customers’ need for transparency,” says Planque. “It is already having an impact on purchasing habits toward healthy products. Recently, some major brands along with other stakeholders addressed a letter to the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, asking for Nutri-Score to be mandatory on food packaging. This shows there is real industry willingness to play the game.”
Since France officially endorsed the scheme in 2017, Belgium, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland have now recognised the effectiveness of Nutri-Score and have also recommended it in their territories. “While the EU is still a long way from having uniform nutritional front of pack labelling, Nutri-Score is becoming a powerful tool for the European food sector to better inform its consumers, and support products sales,” concludes Planque.