The HBF is designed to inspire and financially help bakery businesses across Scotland - including manufacturers, retail, foodservice and ingredient manufacturers - to reformulate their recipes with health as the foundation.
Scotland has a chronic obesity crisis, ranking second highest in the developed world behind the US in 2007. Today, Scottish Health Study data shows that 1 in 3 (67%) Scots are overweight; 30% are deemed obese; and 4% classed as morbidly obese.
And levels are on the rise.
To be classed as obese, a person’s Body Mass Index must be over 30, compared to the healthy BMI range from 18.5 to 24.9. Anything between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.
Obesity Action Scotland says the average BMI of the Scottish population has increased steadily since 1995, rising from 26 to 28. Shockingly, more than half of the obese children in Scotland are at risk of severe obesity.
Obesity rates in Scotland are higher than the overall UK rates: 66% vs 64% (overweight) and 29% vs 28% (obese).
Changing the product, not the person
As such, urgent, dramatic change is needed across multiple levels, most notably in changing the food environment to help consumers make healthier choices.
“Reformulation is about changing the product, not the person,” Joanne Burns, Reformulation for Health manager for FDF Scotland, told Bakery&Snacks.
FDF Scotland’s Reformulation for Health programme is funded by the Scottish Government to help SMEs (small and medium sized) food companies to make their products healthier.
“It’s very hard to totally change a consumer’s view, but through reformulation, we’re changing the product and making it healthier by increasing the content of things like fibre, fruit and veg and reducing salt, fat, sugar.
“It’s also important to be aware that healthy formulation can also be as simple as looking at reducing portion size. It can be as simple as looking at reducing the component parts of a product. So, for example, in bakery, it may be changing the filling or topping.
“I'm amazed at the different reasons that people choose to reformulate. It could be to meet the salt reduction targets. It might be a consumer request. They might want to change some of their front of pack labels from red to green. Every business is unique and we offer bespoke guidance to all of them to deliver their health reformulation projects.”
Added Laura Wilson, head of Public Health Nutrition for FSS Wilson, “If we target everyday products … improving the nutritional composition of products without the need for people to make a conscious choice … that will make the biggest difference across the population.”
The recipients of the 2023 Healthier Baking Fund
The HFB’s first cohort includes a basket of popular high street bakers, including Aberdeen’s Bread Guy; Cuckoo’s Bakery in Edinburgh; Fisher & Donaldson, which has outlets in St Andrews, Dundee and Cupar; George Marchbank Bakers (Dumfries and Galloway); Aberdeenshire’s the Hame Baker and Three Sisters Baker in Glasgow.
Specialist cake maker Northern Lights Cakery (Argyll and Bute) and Bread for Good Community Benefit Society (t/a Scotland the Bread in the Scottish Borders) have also received funding, along with household brands Aulds Delicious Desserts, Cobbs Bakery, Dean's of Huntly, Stoats and Stockan’s Oatcakes.
The reformulation projects are unique to each business and involve everything from the reduction of fat, salt and sugar content; to reducing portion size and calorie count; replacing ingredients with healthier alternatives; and enriching with added fibre, fruit and vegetables. It even applies to simply providing clearer consumer health information.
But these changes come with costs, which in the current economy, is a step too far for many producers, so the HBF is a real lifeline, providing the successful applicants with funds from £1,000 to £5,000. This can be used to pay to access nutritional testing and technical support; to expand the company’s sustainable ingredient network; to trail new solutions and processes; and for new marketing and promotional materials.
The power of reformulation
“Evidence shows reformulation - for example, by reducing portion size or calories - is one of the most effective ways industry can help improve dietary health in Scotland,” said Lesley Curtis, Public Health nutrition advisor at FSS.
“FSS is pleased to be supporting the Scottish bakery sector engage in reformulating their products, which can lead to a positive change to public health.”
Added Burns, “I am delighted to award funding to a wide range of popular bakery producers in communities right across Scotland. We had so many great applications, which gave the judges a tough time in picking the projects to fund.”
“I can’t wait to start working on these interesting projects - together we will be helping to make some of Scotland’s favourite bakery products healthier.”
The Healthier Bakery Fund was open to all businesses based in Scotland that produce sweet or savoury bakery products. Funding up to £5,000 will be provided by FSS, but applicants must invest at least 50% of the total project costs.