Halle, Belgium, 2016-Apr-11 — /EPR Retail News/ — For years, Colruyt Group has been improving the nutritional value of its house brands. Our in-house nutritionists check the nutritional value of each product and improve it wherever possible. In this, they focus on decreasing the amount of salt, added sugar, and saturated fats. Colruyt Group has raised its game in 2014, and 23 product categories have currently been checked. By striving for more balanced food, the group wants positively contribute to public health. The group therefore trusts that the initiative will be recognised by the federal government’s National Food and Health plan.
Health and well-being
The connection between our food and our health has been amply proven. Colruyt Group places a lot of importance on sustainability and is therefore working towards more balanced food in the interest of public health and the well-being of its customers. As the first Belgian retailer to structurally take on this responsibility, the group launched a programme in 2014 to improve the nutritional value of its house brands Everyday, Boni Selection, and Boni Bio, all while maintaining the same flavour. Director Stefan Goethaert, responsible for product sustainability at Colruyt Group, adds: “We’ve always been attentive to the quality and composition of our own brands, and this project was accelerated in 2014. Today, on World Health Day, we’d like to give an update on this.”
Less salt and sugar and fewer saturated fats
“Our nutritionists will screen all our food products”, Stefan Goethaert explains. “Wherever necessary and possible, we will systematically improve the nutritional values, for instance by decreasing the amount of sugar and salt or by adding fibres. We also decrease fat content or replace the saturated fats with better types of fat that are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. And we will increase the amount of vegetables in our ready-made meals.”
Twenty-three categories in two years
Colruyt Group has access to an in-house crew of nutritionists who support the people responsible for quality. Since the programme started, they have screened 23 product categories. Approximately 250 products went through an improvement track, in close collaboration with the manufacturers. Right now, there are approximately one hundred improved products available in stores, including great results such as Boni Selection’s Provençal sauce which contains 94% less fat, EveryDay strawberry drink yoghurt (6.5% less sugar) and Boni Selection Rolled Fillet with Onion sauce (47% less salt). The operation will be continued with the rest of the product range and the nutritional value of all future products will of course be thoroughly reviewed.
And then there is the taste
However, the improvements have their boundaries, as salt, sugar, and fat are often not just additives but structural ingredients. In pastry, for example, you cannot decrease the amount of sugar below a certain level without endangering the product’s consistency. Salt, sugar, and fat also serve as preservatives, in for example cold meats and jams. And the fewer preservatives, the shorter the shelf life a product has. Then there are the legal duties, for instance for mayonnaise, the composition of which has been determined by law. And, regardless of these limitations, the customer also has to be able to enjoy the products whose recipe has been changed. That is why the new recipes are systematically subjected to blind taste and satisfaction tests.
Health tax as a stimulant to food improvement
In the context of the National Food and Health Plan, the government is setting up several measures to decrease the amounts of sugar and fats in our food. This mainly concerns fiscal intervention, such as the sugar tax on soft drinks, implemented in 2015. “We suggest that the government uses the health tax to stimulate the food manufacturers to improve the nutritional value of their products”, says Frans Colruyt, chief operating officer at Colruyt Group. “The manufacturers could commit to an improvement plan in agreement with the government. If they meet their predetermined targets, they could potentially enjoy a tax reduction. That way, the health tax would truly contribute to the improvement of our food.”
More information at: www.simplysustainable.com
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