Tim Smith, group quality director at Tesco, the omnipresent British-born grocery and general merchandise chain that is one of the world's largest retailers, has revealed that it will be implementing sugar reduction targets to its own-label suppliers in new categories of food and drink, according to Food Navigator. Though exact details regarding specific food and drink categories were not disclosed, Smith cites a recent report from Public Health England (PHE) titled, “Sugar Reduction: The Evidence for Action,” which identifies the food and drinks providing the highest levels of children’s dietary sugar intake, and says, “it’s pretty clear.”
According to the report, the biggest contributors of sugar intake in the UK for children (4 to 18 years old) were soft drinks, biscuits, buns, cakes, pastries, and puddings. Regarding Tesco’s strategy to reach its sugar reduction targets, Smith says, “The central part of our work will be on reformulation and reviewing portion sizes.”
Tesco’s suppliers have already reformulated over 4,200 products to reduce sugar, fat, and salt. Products include ketchup, chicken nuggets, and strawberry jam. Smith recognizes, however, the challenges of decreasing sugar in other food categories, where sugar has a functional role in addition to adding sweetness.
The PHE study called for a number of measures to help reduce sugar intake for children, including a reduction in the marketing and advertising of high sugar food and drink products across all media, a clearer definition of high sugar food, and, controversially, a price increase on high sugar products via a tax or levy. According to Food Navigator, this last measure has been discounted by the government in the past because it would disproportionately affect the poor.