Healthier food on the table at successful event

28th February 2024
Written by: Heather Rattray, Interface

Earlier this week, (26th February) Interface and Food and Drink Federation Scotland (FDF Scotland) hosted an event at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, Celebrating Reformulation and Innovation for Health.

This followed on from funding calls developed to support activity and projects for food and drink companies and gave an opportunity not only to hear about the work being done but also informing and inspiring others to improve the health of their products.   The call for action to address the nation’s diet and diet-related illness has never been stronger.

Recipe reformulation is rated as one of the most effective ways industry can help improve dietary health in Scotland, and speakers from industry, academia, public sector and government offered their insights into the work they are undertaking to achieve this.

In a video address, Jenni Minto, MSP and Minister for Public Health and Women’s Health, thanked the food and drink industry for their hard work and dedication to improve the diet and health of the population. Ms Minto said that reformulation was a fascinating way to improve the health properties of the food and drink regularly consumed and that she was impressed by the reformulation work undertaken.

Joanne Burns, Reformulation for Health Manager at FDF Scotland, set the scene for the day recognising that food producers cannot do this alone; a holistic approach across the whole food system is needed. Their Reformul8 Partnership is designed to link up all the stakeholders involved in getting a healthier, reformulated product onto the dinner table or packed lunch.

Laura Wilson from Food Standards Scotland and Lesley Ann Gray from Kantar offered insights on policy and research highlighting the importance of reformulating aspects of the Scottish diet to promote healthier lifestyles all round.  

Speakers from Queen Margaret University, Abertay University and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) then gave examples of how they have been able to support industry through the help of the Healthier Products Innovation Fund, an £80,000 fund for companies to work with Scottish academia. 

Delegates heard about innovative reformulation projects including recipe development, reducing or replacing ingredients such as salt, fat, sugar and palm oil for manufacturers, fortification and the specialist facilities they house to support projects to create healthier products.

Lucinda Bryce-Gardyne, Chair of Scotland Food & Drink and founder of Genius Foods, provided some of her own experiences and passion for science as part of a panel, which she led. The panel discussed the importance of innovation and the role academia has to play through understanding the science behind each of the components and how they interact to develop healthier products, while ensuring they are just as desirable for the consumer. The panel was joined by Prozymi Biolabs Ltd, who are working to make gluten-safe bread and bakery products for consumers with coeliac or gluten sensitivity by denaturing the toxic parts of the gluten protein in wheat flour.

Howell Davies, Head of Strategic Programmes at Interface, stated: “It was a well attended event with plenty of lively discussion and interactions across all delegates, speakers and exhibitors. The whole vibe to the day reflected the appetite of the food industry in Scotland to continue to improve the health of their products.

“We heard from a wide array of expert support and some great examples of those who have made changes to their product which will also improve the health of their businesses and the health of the nation.”               

The afternoon session was opened by Gary Maclean, Scotland’s National Chef, who announced the latest winners of the Reformul8 Challenge Fund. He described how food in Scotland has developed over time and the focus he has personally put on cutting back on certain ingredients whilst promoting others, such as protein and fibre. Other speakers that afternoon included FDF Scotland, Growers Garden, Simon Howie Foods, Ulrick & Short, Saltsmith and Healy Group.

Growers Garden and Simon Howie Foods spoke on their individual reformulation projects that they had completed with assistance from the Reformul8 programme, while the latter three speakers provided insights to their work within the reformulation space providing interesting insights into HFSS as well as tools and products they have available to assist manufacturers with this challenge.

If you are interested in learning more about reformulation and product development and how academia could support you and your business please do get in touch.

Photo shows Howell Davies, Interface, and Joanne Burns, FDF Scotland, signing a pledge for healthier food and drink.