There is no doubt that obesity is a serious and complex public health challenge for the UK. At its most basic, it’s rooted in an imbalance of calories in and calories out which is why greater awareness and better understanding of what is in our food, and supporting eating in moderation, must come alongside encouraging a more active lifestyle. One without the other will not work.
As the maker of many of the nation’s favourite treats, it’s right that Mondēlez plays its part in helping to tackle the issue. And the key word here is ‘treats’. The brands we own, like Cadbury and Maynards Bassetts, are designed to be savoured during a moment of indulgence, or to bring extra joy to a special occasion. There is no hiding the fact that if you are enjoying a chocolate bar or packet of sweets, you are consuming sugar; we don’t shy away from this and consumers consistently tell us they understand our products are treats to be eaten in moderation.
That being said, we are completely committed to playing our role and a central part of our approach is to offer people greater choice, alongside information, education, packaging and portion control. In the UK, we know that sugar is particularly important to people and that’s why I’m proud that today we’ve announced some ambitious sugar reduction plans across our brand portfolio – these include probably the most significant innovation in Cadbury’s history, a new Cadbury Dairy Milk bar with 30% less sugar. It took our UK team of 20 scientists, nutritionists and chocolatiers almost two years to achieve but I’m pleased to say the product has received a resounding thumbs up from consumers, delivering less sugar while staying true to the unmistakable texture and taste of Cadbury Dairy Milk.
Our exciting new Cadbury Dairy Milk variant is just one of a number of lower sugar innovations we have planned for the UK over the next two years as part of our broader strategy to increase well-being choices and help people to enjoy treats in moderation as part of a balanced lifestyle. These include ‘30% less sugar’ versions of Wine Gums and Jelly Babies and 40% reduced sugar BelVita as well as the launch of Cadbury Dairy Milk Perfect Pieces; a 19g individually wrapped portion which is under 100 calories. Taking sugar out of our products isn’t easy and will take time. Ultimately they are treats and people expect them to taste great, but we’re working hard to find innovative solutions that provide more choice without compromising on that world-renowned taste and quality.
The news is part of a much longer journey for us and reduced sugar reformulations are just one element of our consumer wellbeing strategy. As well as sugar, we’re working on broader reformulations, like reducing the salt and saturated fat content of our treats to give our them better nutritional profiles. Another key area of focus for us is portion control. This is scientifically recognised as one of the most effective ways to prevent obesity and we have a strong track record in this area. For instance, we introduced a voluntary 250 calories cap on our single serve chocolate bars, removed 24 billion calories and 90% of our Cadbury Dairy Milk products enjoyed by kids are under 100 calories.
When it comes to kids, we are careful not to market to them directly and believe it’s vital to educate them and young people on the importance of a healthy balanced diet. That’s why we’re investing in school education programmes like Health for Life, the UK’s flagship healthy lifestyle programme which has supported 120 primary schools in Birmingham over the last six years. We celebrated six years of the programme this month and I’m incredibly proud of the impact it’s had in communities. You can read more about the impact it’s having here and see an example of a “mealbarrow”, one of many initiatives designed to educate young students about the importance of having a balanced diet.
Another area of focus for us is providing clear information and educating people so they can make personal choices. We’re leading on front of pack labelling and have recently come together with other chocolate companies to launch Be treatwise, blending education and the crowdsourcing of ideas to help families make sure chocolate is an occasional treat.
We are committed to continuing on this journey and to doing even more. But at the heart of it all, it’s my job to make sure that we don’t lose sight of what our products stand for. Our centuries-old brands such as Cadbury – the nation’s favourite treat for almost 200 years – have a deep connection into British culture.
They are loved by millions of people for their taste, quality and value. These are principles we will never compromise on as we innovate to meet changing consumer needs and to ensure our brands and products stay relevant for the next generation and beyond.