The reduced fat versions, which include the UK’s top-selling biscuit brand, Digestives, went on sale last month. The biscuits’ new formulation will be promoted by a television advertising campaign starting in January.
Biscuit and cake manufacturers have been under increasing pressure to reduce saturated fat, as demand for lower levels has trickled down from consumers and the government’s Food Standards Agency (FSA).
UB is a member of the Food and Drink Federation, which represents industry interests in response to the FSA’s reduced saturated fat, sugar and salt targets for the food industry. The FSA’s goal is to reduce the average amount of energy coming from saturated fat from the current 13.3 per cent per capita, to 11 per cent for everyone over the age of five by 2010.
The reformulation challenge
A UB spokesperson told BakeryandSnacks.com: “We knew that consumers were interested in reducing their saturated fat intake and it is an important part of the FSA reduction of saturated fat project too. Consumers have never been so interested in health and nutrition so there’s never been a better time to do it.”
Balancing the cost of addressing technical issues in reformulation research with the FSA’s drive for new product designs to slash saturated fat content has been proving a major challenge to the bakery industry.
UB says it has undertaken “extensive technical work” in order to reduce the saturated fat content without changing the biscuits’ taste.
UB’s spokesperson said that its in-house reformulation process took three years to develop and that the reduction in saturated fat has been achieved by changing the oil used in the biscuits’ manufacture, although she said the company could not divulge specific details of the new oil in use.
The area of saturated-fat-free oils is known to be a technically difficult one.
Earlier this year, ingredients supplier ADM Oils and Fats told this website that the main difficulty facing manufacturers is stability in reformulation.
Traditionally, bakers use large blocks of shortening, which are relatively time-consuming to incorporate into mixtures, but produce smooth, fine crystals, resulting in a satisfying mouthfeel. Liquid shortenings are an alternative, but they tend to have a short shelf life, often solidifying after just a couple of weeks, and there are difficulties in achieving the same crystal types in the finished product.
UB says it has spent £6 million making changes to ingredients and production, and in advertising the biscuits’ new formulation.