Product formulation and innovation are important means, although not the only ones, to enhance the nutritional composition of products, for example by reducing levels of salt, saturated fat and calories; by adding fibre, proteins, vitamins and minerals; or by adjusting portion sizes, amongst others.
Members of the European Snacks Association (ESA) have a long-lasting involvement in the nutrition and health debate, at both national and European level, with a track record of successful reformulation efforts.
Responding to health concerns around consumers’ diets, savoury snacks manufacturers have worked very hard over the last decades to develop the market for healthier options, by lowering overall salt and fat levels while promoting fibre- and protein-rich ingredients such as pulses.
Snack manufacturers have responded quickly to changing consumer preferences with respect to salt and many ranges of lower-salt and no-salt products are now available; allowing consumers to make the choices best suited to their individual lifestyles.
In the UK: manufacturers voluntarily reduced the amount of salt in potato crisps by over 53% between 1990 and 2019.
In Italy: overall salt content in potato crisps was reduced by 19% between 2010 and 2017, and up to 35% for the crackers segment between 2008 and 2017.
In Spain: between 2005 and 2016, manufacturers voluntarily reduced salt in potato crisps by 30% in average and 23% for other savoury snacks.
Over the past decade, manufacturers have invested into new technologies (e.g. equipment and cooking/baking techniques) and ingredients (vegetables oils with more unsaturated fats, e.g. shifting to sunflower or rapeseed oils) to reduce the level of saturated fat in savoury snacks, leading to up to 60% less saturated fat in the final product.
In Italy: recent data shows a drop of 44% in saturated fat content for potato crisps between 2008 and 2018.
ESA members continually invest resources into the development of new products, ingredients and manufacturing methods but the sector is also reaching technological limits and further reducing salt or saturated fat might mean that some products simply cannot be manufactured anymore (e.g. baked or extruded products) or organoleptic properties might alter so much that consumers will stop purchasing products.
Thanks to continuous improvements of product recipes over the past decades, some products have already reached the limits of what can be realistically achieved.
Consult the European Snacks Association website to find out more!