Delivering Healthy Growth

The role that food and drink companies can play in helping consumers to lead healthy, balanced lives is the subject of much debate.

  • Introduction: Delivering Healthy Growth
    by Richard Evans, PepsiCo West Europe Region and South Africa and Melanie Leech, Director General, Food and Drink Federation
  • Foreword - Anna Soubry MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health

Introduction: Delivering Healthy Growth

Richard Evans, Chair, FDF Health and Wellbeing Steering Group
PepsiCo West Europe Region and South Africa

Looking at the work highlighted in this document, it is clear that Food and Drink Federation (FDF) members are doing a great deal.

This includes:Richard Evans

  • using cutting edge processes to reformulate products to increase fibre or to reduce saturated fat or salt;
  • investing in new product development to create healthier options;
  • promoting those innovative products through responsible communications, adapting their approaches as technology moves at an ever quickening pace;
  • providing clear on-pack and online information to encourage healthy eating; and
  • offering practical help and encouragement to their staff and the wider communities they work within to lead healthier lives.

This builds on the many strengths of what is the UK's biggest manufacturing sector. Our products enjoy a worldclass reputation for safety, quality and value. Many of our brands are amongst the UK's most trusted and valued, and are increasingly sought by consumers across the globe. We continue to invest heavily in UK science, technology and research and development to deliver new products, improve our existing ones and to empower consumers to make informed decisions about their own diet and lifestyle.

While we can demonstrate good progress, we are not complacent. As Chair of the FDF Health and Wellbeing Steering Group, I am clear that there is more to do, particularly by working in partnership with others. For example, we can spur further innovation by working better with research funding bodies to deliver relevant research and knowledge transfer.

Public health is everybody's business. The Public Health Responsibility Deal in England recognises this and we will continue to support it. The constructive involvement of more players from the industry and beyond will add weight and consistency to the work already completed. This means that governments north and south of the border need to broaden engagement with initiatives such as the Responsibility Deal and the Obesity Action Plan before deepening the commitments of those who regularly step up to the plate.

Regardless, as this information shows, we will continue to innovate and collaborate to drive better public health outcomes and support a successful, sustainable food and drink industry.

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Melanie Leech, Director General, Food and Drink Federation

Melanie LeechIn 2013 FDF celebrates its centenary year. Over the last 100 years the food environment has changed dramatically. Our industry has responded to those demands by continually innovating to meet changing consumer needs, providing safe, nutritious and affordable food for a growing population.

Our strong focus on our customers has served us well. By comparison with other industrial sectors we have been largely resilient in the recent economic downturn and as government sought out sectors that could lead the economic recovery, food and drink stepped forward with its vision to grow the industry by a further 20% by 2020.

We are very clear that this growth must not be at any cost. Despite the prevailing economic conditions, our industry remains committed to reducing its impacts on the environment and to playing its full part in improving public health. We first set out our vision and commitment to working in partnership with government and others to deliver improving, long-term public health outcomes as long ago as 2004.

Many of our members had even longer-standing commitments and programmes of work in place to meet particular nutritional needs, to respond to the demand for healthier products and for more assistance to shoppers to make healthier choices for them and their families.

Most recently FDF has engaged constructively within the framework of the Public Health Responsibility Deal in England – and the Obesity Action Plan in Scotland, taking voluntary action to reduce salt, eliminate artificial trans fats and empower consumers to reduce their energy intake. As a sector we directly employ around 400,000 people and our members also take seriously their responsibilities as employers – to support their workforce (and their families) to lead healthier, more active lives.

As the UK's largest manufacturing sector and one with a reach into almost every individual's life, our industry is acutely aware of its responsibilities – whether tackling public health issues such as malnutrition or deficiency of certain nutrients in vulnerable groups or the growing challenge of obesity; or enabling consumers to make informed choices from a range of products that match modern lifestyles.

We believe we can do this whilst also playing a fundamental role in restoring the health of the UK economy. This all adds up to the food and drink industry delivering healthy growth.

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Foreword by Anna Soubry MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health

Anna Soubry MPWe are all too aware of the major public health challenges facing us. England has amongst the highest levels of obesity in Europe and some of the lowest levels of physical activity.

The scale of the problem is vast. Around 70,000 premature deaths could be avoided each year if UK diets matched nutritional guidelines. The costs of over weight and obesity on society were £16 billion in 2007, potentially rising to £50 billion a year by 2050 if left unchecked.

The costs fall on us all - individuals and communities, the NHS and business - and ultimately on our future prosperity.

Public health is everyone's responsibility and we'll only succeed if we work together. We agree that everyone must take responsibility for their own choices, but research points to the powerful role of the environment in shaping individual behaviour. That is where you have a vital role to play.

I am encouraged that many in the industry have taken action. The Change4Life movement is strongly supported by FDF members, and we welcome further support.

You have already made excellent progress on reducing salt - with the UK recognised as world leaders - and artificial trans fats have largely been removed. Some manufacturers have committed to our ambitious calorie reduction work in addition to their other commitments, with an increasingly innovative range of activities to encourage people towards healthier options.

However, we need to go further and foster a new 'calorie consciousness', to enable ongoing change by industry to help reverse the upward trend in obesity. The achievements of some rightly deserve praise, but if we are to succeed in the long term action needs to be universal.

FDF members have a strong track record on workplace well-being and many, as Responsibility Deal partners, are committed to improving employee health. The evidence clearly shows that having a healthy, engaged workforce produces significant benefits – not only for employees but for business - including improved quality, and better productivity.

We need to keep building on this momentum. There is excellent work going on, but more can and must be done. I look forward to working with you to help make healthier choices the default option, so that everyone can look forward to a healthy, sustainable and prosperous future.

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In this report


Last reviewed: 09 Sep 2015