United Biscuits (UB) - reformulation case studies

“The reformulation of our well loved McVitie's brand was the latest in a long line of projects that have delivered a significant health benefit for consumers – without any compromise on taste”

Alice Cadman, Head of Strategic Projects, United Biscuits


  • The reformulation of the McVitie's range builds on the saturated fat reduction programme that United Biscuits (UB) has had in place since 2005.
  • The project has resulted in a 50% reduction in saturated fat on these iconic brands.
  • The changes took three years to implement.
  • Key challenges to overcome included the need to implement significant factory changes and the challenge of creating a new recipe that still met high consumer expectations.
  • In all, this project has cost United Biscuits £6m to implement.

United Biscuits has made great progress with its health and nutrition programme and is continuing to make improvements to meet consumer needs. Saturated fat was identified as a key target with changes first made on the snacks portfolio as part of a reformulation programme starting in 2005.

McVites Digestives packAll of UB's crisps and snacks have benefited from reductions in saturated fat, whilst maintaining the same great taste. The saturated fat content of Hula Hoops and Skips has been reduced by 80% since 2005; Nik Naks, Wheat Crunchies and Discos all now contain 50% less saturated fat; and the saturated fat content of McCoy's has been reduced by 30% and will have a further reduction in 2009.

After achieving saturated fat reductions in the snacks, work started in September 2005 to discover how saturated fat reductions in biscuits could be achieved.

In November 2008, following three years of work from a multi-functional project team, McVite's Digestives, McVite's Hob Nobs and McVite's Rich Tea were launched with 50% less saturated fat.

Extensive consumer testing was needed to find the optimum reduction of saturated fat that could still offer the same great taste.

UB invested £6m in changes to ingredients and investment in manufacturing facilities, as well as TV advertising to communicate to consumers the news about the reduced saturated fat of McVitie's biscuits.

UB continues to deliver product improvements in other areas of its portfolio as part of its focus on health and nutrition. For instance: the go ahead! range of biscuits and snacks has grown significantly since its launch in 1996 and plays an important part in the healthier biscuit category, with products such as Raspberry and Cranberry Wholemeal Slices and Strawberry Twist Wholemeal Bakes which are low in fat and a good source of fibre.

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Last reviewed: 06 Jul 2009