News story

Public Health Responsibility Deal partners help people reduce calories

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A wide range of actions taken over past year by 25 Responsibility Deal food businesses to help families cut down on calories.

Annual feedback provided to the Department of Health shows Responsibility Deal partners are taking action on calories.

Big names such as Britvic, Burton’s Biscuits, Coca-Cola, Mars, Mondelēz, Nestlé, Premier Foods and Unilever, all of the major retailers as well as high street chains JD Wetherspoon and Subway included.

These are some of the actions already taken on reducing calories:

  • Tesco: Reduced the number of calories sold in its own brand soft drinks by over 1 billion in 2012.
  • Sainsbury’s: Reduced the sugar content of its own brand high juice squashes by between 4 and 10%, removing over 600 million calories from customers’ baskets per year; as well as removing 23 tonnes of saturated fat from the pastry in its biggest selling mince pies.
  • Coca-Cola: Sprite now contains 30% fewer calories.
  • JD Wetherspoon: Reduced the calories in 12 dishes.
  • Nestlé: Over half (54%) of Nestlé confectionery now contain less than 110 calories per serving.
  • Mars: On way to reducing the calories in all its chocolate products to no more than 250 calories per portion (by end 2013); with further reductions in some leading products, including Twix (from 284 to 248 calories). Has also launched the Maltesers Teasers chocolate bar (186 calories per bar).
  • Burton’s Biscuits: Changes to the ingredients across all its brands will result in an estimated national reduction of 700,000 kcals per day for its customer in 2013.
  • Subway: In 2012, Subway spent around 65% of its promotional budget on healthier eating; and launched a new range of low fat flatbreads.
  • Morrisons: Launched a new healthier range, NuMe, which includes lower calorie options on an extended range of products.

Public Health Minister Anna Soubry said:

By working with industry through the Responsibility Deal, we have already significantly reduced artificial trans fat, calories and salt in foods, and set-up consistent front of pack food labelling which all the major supermarkets and some big manufacturers have signed up to.

But we are not complacent – I expect to see more companies signing up and delivering so we can get even bigger results.

Sales data supplied by Morrisons for its NuMe range of healthier eating foods, developed as a Responsibility Deal pledge, shows a significant uplift in sales compared with its previous Eat Smart range. For example, NuMe light soft cheese has 34% fewer calories and sales have gone up 53%; and its NuMe smoked bacon rashers, with 35% fewer calories, have seen a 91% uplift.

Dr Susan Jebb, Chair of the Responsibility Deal food network said:

I’m delighted to see some really strong actions being taken by Responsibility Deal partners making it easier for people to cut down on calories. I congratulate them for their efforts, but much more still needs to be done and many food businesses have yet to do anything. We will continue to urge these companies to step up.

I want to see more manufacturers and out of home businesses stepping forward very soon to reduce calories - making commitments across all their portfolio and not just some token gestures on a few key items.

It’s encouraging to see that Morrisons’ sales data for their NuMe range clearly show the business benefits for companies prepared to innovate and embrace the healthier eating agenda.

People do need to take personal responsibility for what they eat, but businesses have a vital role in shaping the environment to help people choose lower calorie options.

Partners’ annual updates for 2012/13 can be accessed from the list of signatories for each pledge.