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  • Writer's pictureMeyrick Consulting

Is this the obesity breakthrough we’ve hoped for?

As I sat down to write this article I had sugar on my mind for a number of reasons. Halloween is yet another feeding frenzy excuse where the food industry encourages children to eat more sweet food and what I would loosely term junk. Ironically, perhaps, BBC 2 is also launching a brand-new documentary this week entitled, ‘Who are you calling fat?’ Can I bear to watch?

How can we tackle our sugar addiction?

Yet, it’s obvious that many people are struggling to maintain a healthy weight so I was extremely interested to read what other sectors within the food industry are doing to tackle our collective sugar cravings.

Cargill steps into the spotlight

Cargill is a massive Company with 160,000 employees and operates over 70 countries or regions globally. They have commitments to responsibly feed the world. They also want to reduce their environmental impact as well as improving employees’ lives and the places where their operations are situated.

Can we really reduce sugar content by 30% without compromising on taste?

To this end they have just launched the first soluble fibre line in Europe at a cost of £27 million pounds. In addition they are also dealing with sweeteners, texturisers, and starches. Their aim is to reduce sugar content by as much as 30% in a product. Not only this but the development of groundbreaking soluble fibres would actually allow a reduction in calories. It will also create an increase in fibre especially in the foods that right now are almost considered empty calories. These would be foodstuffs we cant resist such as: ice cream, baked goods, sweets and cereal.

Hands off our comfort food!

The fear for many of us is that any tinkering with classic recipes can fundamentally change the whole reason why we eat sweet things in the first place.

Have you noticed that the removal of all the “bad’ ingredients in traditional sweets like American Hard Gums has transformed their flavour? Does anyone else out there agree?

Consumers are driving change

However, Cargill suggests their investments will keep our sweet foods looking, feeling and tasting the same. Apparently Europe has been much slower than the rest of the world to adopt or show interest in soluble fibre solutions. However, with the radical shift in the way consumers are decision-making around food Cargill announced that 2019 is a very good time to put in considerable fibres investments. This will sit alongside their sweeteners and texture ranges.

Surely we are eating less sugar now?

This may well be good news for consumers who have begun to feel guilty about sweet treat consumption. However, manufacturers are not going to hit the UK government’s target of reducing sugar content by 20% by 2020. Public Health England’s latest report shows that although the sugar tax on soft drinks has worked well with amounts of sugar falling by 28.8% it’s not all a success story. Confectionery sugar levels have actually risen by 0.6% ; that is bizarre. Also you might be surprised to see that sugar consumption also rose in a three year period from 2015-2018. It’s up 2.6%. So you can see exactly why Cargill’s investment looks like the right one to make especially as the government’s chief medical officer has been keen to see tighter regulation in this field. Take Sorren, for example, who through innovation has reduced its calorie footprint by 27%. This has taken 4,700 tonnes of sugar out of the nation’s diet in a 2 year period.

Innovation is transforming the food and drink industry

But to me, a recruiter in the Food & Drink industry, this is yet another example of how innovation is transforming the way food is manufactured and marketed. With these new fibre lines that are based on advanced proprietary technology it demonstrates just how sophisticated the industry has become. It now really does represent a fabulous opportunity for highly qualified and forward thinking graduates. With complex needs, change management, innovation and digital transformation just a few of the industries concerns the time is right for talented individuals to review their opinion of the food and drink Industry.

Cargill’s global strategy and business development director, Jan- Peter Scheurwater said in an interview that health-conscious consumers were driving change and many manufacturers were looking to reduce calories and sugars in key foods. He went on to say that Cargill is also looking to improve the overall nutritional profile of foods too.

When I talk to companies in the Food & Drink industry regarding their recruitment needs I try to emphasise with just how hard they need to work to attract the very best talent out there. Innovative and forward-thinking new employees are critical if companies want to deliver on such vision and big investments such as Cargill’s £27 million.

One can’t help wondering what impact these developments will have in the long-term as we will have to wait until 2021 for the first products containing these new fibres to come on stream.

It would be interesting to know if anyone is experiencing any specific skills shortages in this sector and also what sweet treat couldn’t you live without? Do leave a comment.


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