Policies for the new Government to deliver a thriving food and drink industry

Work in partnership with industry to tackle obesity through an holistic, evidence-based approach, with calorie reduction at its heart.

Food and drink manufacturers take our responsibility to help consumers make informed diet choices and achieve healthier lifestyles very seriously. We agree with leading experts that there is no silver bullet to tackle the complex issue of obesity and diet-related diseases. Success is dependent on many co-ordinated interventions across the entire food chain and in homes, communities and workplaces.

We are proud of our record: from voluntary salt reduction, virtual elimination of artificial trans fats, and now a world-leading sugars reduction programme.

But we know there is more to do to transform the nation's diet, which is why industry is also taking bold steps on its own initiative. In 2015 FDF announced our support for new restrictions in digital media, so adverts for products high in fat, salt and sugar can no longer be shown in children's media, as is already the case for television. We are proud that in July 2017 this new regime will come into force and we will continue to look where we can come together to help families choose healthier lifestyles.

We believe strong progress on diet and health is possible through close partnership with Government to deliver a long-term, voluntary programme of work. To achieve this, we seek a stable environment in which any new measures are proportionate, evidence-based and introduced with a realistic timetable.

FDF agrees with dietitians that it is wrong to focus on one single nutrient or ingredient and that we must look for a 'whole diet and lifestyle' solution. The emphasis should be on calories, as undue focus on any one nutrient risks misleading the consumer.

The next Government should quickly build on the sugars reduction work to create an holistic reformulation programme, with calorie reduction at its heart. Government should also champion the role of appropriate portion sizing, shifting marketing investment behind healthier options and methods to drive behaviour change among consumers.

Reformulation takes time, involves technical challenges and incurs great costs. The next Government should fund pre-competitive research through the Research Councils with world leading UK universities and improve technology transfer through funding of commercialisation initiatives, such as those supported by InnovateUK. This will help keep new product prices competitive, ensuring these are truly affordable to all and helping to alleviate health inequalities.

We call on the next Government to:

  • Recognise that the most powerful approach to tackling obesity requires a range of interventions across multiple settings and that manufacturers are willing to play their part.
  • Provide clarity on the long-term expectation of industry by developing an holistic calorie reduction programme, recognising that both reformulation and portion size are key areas of industry action.
  • Provide financial certainty to industry by confirming there will be no further nutrient taxes on foods, providing companies with the security to commit financing to long-term, costly calorie reduction programmes.
  • Support industry innovation, through funding support for fundamental and applied research, including improving technology transfer provisions, for example by understanding how healthier foods can be made the foods of choice.

Next page: Turbocharge sector-specific exports support to help smaller firms take advantage of new opportunities.

For any queries, please contact press.office@fdf.org.uk

Last reviewed: 10 May 2018