Dairy UK is preparing to sign up to the Department of Health’s pledge to slash five billion calories a day from the nation’s diet.

It announced its intention this week in a move that will also see it sign up to the Responsibility Deal more widely.

In signing up to the pledge, Dairy UK will commit to “support and enable our customers to eat and drink fewer calories” using reformulation, smaller portion sizes, education and information as well as “actions to shift the marketing mix towards lower-calorie options.”

It will also be backing the Responsibility Deal’s core commitments and pledges, which include a general promise to encourage consumers to adopt a healthier diet.

Dairy UK has decided to support the calorie reduction pledge despite being highly critical of the Department of Health’s approach to the Responsibility Deal in the past.

In a blog this week, director general Jim Begg said primary food producers were still not “around the top table” in negotations, “and when you ask why, a litany of excuses are provided.”

That was why take-up of the calorie reduction pledge had been “so poor” to date, he added.

However, Dairy UK signing up to the pledge was “an opportunity for the DH” go engage more closely with the industry, Begg wrote. “Please don’t let the opportunity slip away.”

Dairy UK will now call a meeting with its members to encourage them to sign up individually and consult on exactly what the pledge will mean for the dairy industry.

Once it has officially signed up to the pledge, it will have six weeks to present a detailed sector delivery plan to the DH.

Some dairy companies - such as Dairy Crest and Danone - have already signed up to parts of the Deal, but none has to date committed to the calorie reduction pledge.