German National Reduction and Innovation Strategy: a reformulation success story

Published: 17/04/2023

In 2018, the German government instructed the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture to devise a science-based strategy on cutting sugar, fat and salt levels in processed foods.

After involving stakeholders from government, research, and industry the National Reduction and Innovation Strategy was adopted on 19 December 2018.

In the strategy, the food sector recognises its role as a solution provider to achieve a balanced energy intake of the population while improving nutrient supply.

To date, eleven sector associations have agreed on voluntary product- or sector-specific process and target agreements with their member companies. These relate to sugar reduction in soft drinks, fruit beverages with added sugar, breakfast cereals for children and sweetened dairy products for children, as well as salt reduction in frozen pizzas and artisanal bread. Depending on the sector, some agreements include quantitative reduction targets, while others focus on strategies such as awareness-raising measures.

The implementation of the strategy began in early 2019 and will continue until 2025.

In order to have an independent monitoring system, the Federal Research Institute of Nutrition and Food (Max-Rubner-Institute, MRI) was commissioned. The MRI collected baseline data in 2016 and 2018. The first follow-up focused on milk products, soft drinks, breakfast cereals and frozen pizzas and was published in April 2020. The results indicated that the strategy was already having an effect, with reduced sugar or energy levels observed in all of the product categories analysed.

Government follow-up reports have shown the effectiveness of the strategy, with reduced salt contents observed in bread and bread rolls and reduced sugar contents cereal, fruit and nut bars.

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