It's a Deal: big names agree calorie pledges

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A host of retailers, wholesalers and suppliers have pledged to launch new low-calorie ranges and reformulate up to a third of their products after months of talks with ministers finally culminated in a deal this week.

Under the new agreement, which is part of the Public Health Responsibility Deal, 17 companies committed to major calorie reductions across a range of products from soft drinks to chocolate bars.

Tesco, the last retailer to sign up, promised to remove 1.8 billion calories from its soft drinks. It also set new calorie limits on its Eat, Live and Enjoy range, which will now contain a maximum of 500 calories per meal.

“We’re already removing calories from some products we sell, such as soft drinks,” said a spokesman. “We’re also increasing the use of the ‘Green Ping’, which helps customers to easily spot lower-calorie options.

Asda revealed it would develop an entirely new reduced-calorie brand across a wide range of products, which would have at least 30% fewer calories than its core Chosen By You range.

On the supplier side, Coca-Cola promised to cut the calorie content of several of its leading soft drinks brands by at least 30% by 2014, while Mars has already committed to capping the calories of all its chocolate to 250 calories per portion by the end of 2013, after helping to lead the talks.

Premier Foods said it would cut calories in a third of its brands by the end of 2014, and at least 30% of new products would be lower-calorie.

And foodservice giant Compass said it would reformulate over 5,000 products to cut energy density and remove up to 10% of calories over the next 18 months. Subway and Whitbread’s Beefeater have also made new calorie pledges.

Companies now have six weeks to present more detailed proposals.

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