Hungry for change?

With the recent introduction of the sugar tax on soft drinks and the imminent launch of a Scottish Obesity Strategy, food and drink producers are facing challenges when it comes to manufacturing healthier products.

One thing is certain, there is a growing appetite from consumers for healthier options. Interface is bringing together producers and manufacturers with academia to help provide solutions.
To find out the latest thinking in reformulation, Interface and Food and Drink Federation Scotland invited speakers from a variety of food and drink organisations and academic experts to an industry event in Aberdeen earlier this month. The event, held at The Rowett Institute, was described as “fantastic and very informative”.

Here is a summary of the event, which is the first in a series aimed at supporting the food and drink industry. To hear about future events, please email

Kate Halliwell from the Scottish Food and Drink Federation provided an overview of reformulation from the UK manufacture’s perspective including the policies that are coming into effect, such as the Scottish Obesity Strategy which is expected to be announced in June. In other parts of the UK, Public Health England (PHE) is introducing sugar and calorie reduction policies, the latter which links well to the topic of Hungry for Change on increasing fruit, veg and fibre in products.

Celia Nyssens from Nourish Scotland focused on making vegetables “more convenient, attractive and normal” to increase consumption and emphasized “supply” and “collaboration” as key.  She said that businesses who had participated in the Peas Please campaign said that it had been good for business, from a corporate social responsibility point of view, a health point of view, and had been good for brand association.  The first Pease Please report will be out in October 2018.

Wendy Russell from The Rowett Institute shared how mainstream high protein, low carbohydrates diets, for example the Atkins Diet, led to research work as the institute were concerned about people’s gut health due to low fibre intake on these diets. They looked at sustainable plant proteins like fava bean, buckwheat, hemp, pea and lupin, which are all high in protein and fibre, contain lots of good vitamins and minerals and many phytochemicals, and which are good for preventing a number of diseases including Type 2 Diabetes.

Baukje de Roos from The Rowett Institute focused on opportunities for marine-derived foods and nutrients and explained the unique properties of marine-derived omega 3 compared to plant-derived sources. Also, the benefits of eating just two portions a week of oily fish like salmon could have on increasing a person’s omega 3 and vitamin D levels – important in countries where the sunshine is limited. There is also real potential for shellfish to promote its health claims as it is packed with good nutrients.

Jon Wilkin from Abertay University provided practical guidance on reformulation and how understanding the ingredients in products and their interaction will assist with reformulating them.  He showed examples of how equipment like the Texture Analyser and CT scanner can also aid in developing products.

Donnie Maclean from Eat Balance explained how “health by stealth” is the way forward with school pupils by adding Scottish seaweed into his pizzas, which is a good source of B12 and iodine, and pysllium husk powder, which provides fibre, into the dough base.

Christine Edwards from University of Glasgow addressed the issue of gut health and how combining polyphenols and dietary fibre can optimise products. Both polyphenols and dietary fibre are associated with health benefits such as anti-inflammation and reduced cardiovascular risk factors.

Julien Lonchamp and Catriona Liddle from Queen Margaret University guided the audience on new product development, existing product development and research and development. They introduced the “Product Development Nutrient Pie Dilemma” caused by taking out sugars i.e. carbohydrates, and what they are replaced with due to the wide functionality of sugar.

Some examples of the pros and cons of alternatives were given.  They also touched on cutting edge work that is currently be conducted looking at using waste products to create possible functional ingredients for the future.

Click here to download the presentation slides from the event.