Nestlé UK & Ireland has vowed to strip 10% of sugar from its confectionery portfolio in the next year.

The move will see around 7,500 tonnes of sugar removed from its portfolio of well-known brands including Kit Kat, Aero and Yorkie through reformulation and reduction in product size.

Nestlé also pledged to continue investment in research and development to further improve products in the future.

In December, the Swiss food company claimed to have discovered ways to slash the amount of sugar in some of its chocolate bars by 40% without compromising the taste. It said the reduction was achieved by discovering a way “to structure sugar differently”.

Making today’s announcement, Nestle chairman and CEO Fiona Kendrick said: “Our confectionery brands have been enjoyed in the UK for more than a century and we know that if we can improve these products nutritionally, provide more choice and information for the consumer, together with other categories, we can have a significant impact on public health.

“Nestlé is at the forefront of efforts to research and develop new technology that makes food products better for our consumers. These innovations will help us to reduce sugar in confectionery when they are combined with other, more common methods like reformulating recipes and swapping sugar for other, non-artificial ingredients.

“Making these improvements to our products is key to us delivering better choices for our consumers while retaining the same great taste that they know and love.”

Public Health England chief executive Duncan Selbie said the news was further proof that its sugar reduction talks, due to result in industry-wide targets in the next few weeks across nine key categories including confectionery, were having an impact. Nestlé is halfway to hitting the 20% sugar reduction target by 2020, and Selbie called on the company to maintain its promise to go further.

“Nestlé is the latest household name to commit to making everyday products healthier and we’re delighted this is just the start of its efforts,” said Selbie.

“This sends a clear message that reducing sugar in food is possible, even in products that are typically harder to reformulate.”

PHE last month vowed to defend the industry amid controversy over shrinkage, after admitting its reduction targets would be impossible to hit unless products get smaller. In an exclusive interview with The Grocer, PHE director of diet and obesity Alison Tedstone said products including chocolate bars, confectionery, cakes and biscuits would all have to shrink.

PHE admitted the move would attract controversy as suppliers like Nestlé are unlikely to reduce its prices at the same time as shrinking products.