At its European Forum on Health and Nutrition in Brussels, the European Snacks Association (ESA) highlighted a number of actions it is taking in order to address obesity, within the framework of the European Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health.
In particular, this year members of the association are focusing reformulating products in order to deliver a wider product choice.
Lisa Kretschmann, scientific and regulatory affairs manager at ESA, told NutraIngredients.com that this may include reformulation of original products using healthier oils, for example, the development of new products using healthy ingredients such as soy, or reduction of unhealthy ingredients such as salt or fat.
However she stressed that it is up to each company to take the best approach as it sees fit, vis-à-vis its own products.
The number of products with reduced calories, fat, saturated fats and/or salt is expected to increase before this year is out. Moreover, the industry is looking to provide a greater variety of package sizes for different eating occasions.
ESA is also encouraging members to give consumers more complete nutritional information on product packaging, even when it is not legally necessary; and will be auditing its members activities aimed at encouraging consumers to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Members are also starting to implement new guidelines on commercial communications, sales in schools and vending.
Key to the guidelines, approved by the ESA board at the end of 2005, is the justification for advertising - "for competitive reasons, for example in order to communicate on new product developments and improvements".
Stephen Kehoe, a member of the ESA board and European VP public and government affairs at PepsiCo International, said: "Switching off advertising is no solution to driving change in the market. Advertising is a powerful communications channel which should be embraced not rejected."
Kretschmann said that the association wanted guidelines for the whole Euro sector, but that most companies also have their own.
ESA's guidelines are intended to set a baseline level, but it wishes to "increase this as best practice evolves," she said.
ESA is currently in discussions on how to measure compliance with the guidelines.