Expert View: Leatherhead Food Research
Healthier options can mean a range of things. As part of a healthier diet, a reduction in the levels of sugar, fat and salt are recommended. 39% of UK consumers are looking for healthy products that make them feel full for longer, 19% are looking for products containing key vitamins and minerals and 17% want products to match their personal dietary and nutritional needs. As with sugars, salt and fat have functional roles in foods, giving flavour, texture, lift and preservative effects.
Using science to underpin and explain these sensory properties allows the product developer to identify the functional roles precisely and make a healthier product that meets customers’ requirements. For example, fat reduction can be achieved by restructuring the water and oil in an emulsion such as a mayonnaise or salad dressing. By changing these emulsions from a standard high oil in water system to a waterin-oil-in-water (WOW) emulsion the level of fat can be reduced significantly but the creaminess and flavour retained.
Regulatory issues are also important. For example, the claims “light” and “reduced” can be used as a comparative claims, provided that the conditions of use are being met. Comparative nutrition claims are widely used by the food industry as a powerful marketing tool to inform consumers about healthier options.
Consumer data comes from Leatherhead Food Research; nationally representative survey with 2,069 UK consumers, September 2016