“We are getting to a flat point in the improvement curve,” said Food and Drink Federation president Gavin Neath. “We can’t go further than consumers in this. They need to be weaned off.”
Responding to a question by The Grocer, Neath said he could not comment on the overall effect on sales of reformulated foods, although any cut in ingredients such as salt hit margins as alternatives had to be found.
But he said some companies such as Heinz, which has embarked on an aggressive reduction programme, have “perhaps taken a risk but been very bold”. Salt reductions in products made by Unilever UK, of which Neath is chairman, have “allowed other tastes to come through,” he said.
Neath added that, although there was a lot industry could and wanted to do, in the end the consumer had to make informed
choices. “It would be a waste of time to go to zero grams of salt and then to find out that the consumer stops buying the product and goes for higher salt, imported food. That is why we would like to see this issue looked at across the EU,” he said.
He added that the industry would like to see more progress on a campaign of public education with government and said many manufacturers had committed to helping put money up for this. “We think knowledge is still a gap,” he said.
Such a campaign could see digital viewers pressing a button to get more nutritional information or on-pack messages.
FDF director general Melanie Leech stressed that any campaign should be about a balanced diet and lifestyle.