Macphie of Glenbervie - reformulation case studies

“The success of our business depends on meeting customer and consumer needs. As far as addressing the issue of salt, fat and additives reduction we made it a priority to invest in reformulation and innovation programmes to widen consumer choice. However, we will not compromise on the taste, quality or functionality of our food ingredients”

Ronnie Leggett, Commercial Director, Macphie of Glenbervie


  • The company reformulation programme was initiated in 2004.
  • To date 250 tonnes of salt and 340 tonnes of fat have been removed from the portfolio.
  • Over 10% of Macphie's 300-strong workforce is dedicated to consumer research and product development.
  • The challenge has been to create new recipes that are as appealing as current favourites without compromising on taste, enjoyment, quality or functionality.
  • Some £3m has been invested to implement the programme.

Macphie of Glenbervie has a long-standing history of innovation and always looks for opportunities to enhance its product range to better meet consumers' needs, particularly in health and nutrition.

In 2004, Macphie food scientists analysed the composition of its branded portfolio, which amounts to more than 350 products.

A reformulation programme was introduced to improve the nutritional profile of its diverse range of cake and confectionery mixes, cream alternatives, sauces, desserts and savoury snacks. Benchmarks were set to incrementally remove fat, salt and additives without affecting taste.

As a manufacturer of food ingredients rather than finished branded products, Macphie faced considerable issues in not only addressing its own food ingredients but also in advising, supporting and collaborating with its customers to ensure that any developments did not affect the finished products.

Extensive development work was carried out, over two years, to remove hydrogenated vegetable oil. Once the technical challenges of stability, product performance and shelf-life were successfully overcome, work started to progressively reduce salt levels to meet the Food Standards Agency's salt targets.

All reformulated products underwent multiple pilot and factory trials. Stringent testing took place by in-house technical experts, and professional chefs and bakers to make sure that the end results were unaffected.

Working in partnership with Food Innovation at Abertay University, new recipes were benchmarked and evaluated for acceptability by consumer sensory tasting panels. For example the new versions of Macphie's Cheddar Cheese Sauce and American Crème Cake Mix now contain 30% less salt.

Macphie is working hard to convert all products to natural flavours and colours, and novel technologies used to reduce or replace saturated fat are under review.

Macphie has an ongoing innovation programme and continues to develop new products that help consumers to choose healthier options. Examples include a low Glycaemic Index (GI) Multi-seed Bread Concentrate, an Oat Bread developed in collaboration with the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health to help control diabetes, and a pioneering Barley Bread.

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Last reviewed: 06 Jul 2009