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Inside food & drink manufacturing

Business Leaders' Forum

Gluten-free sector would be hit hard by sugar and fat taxes

By Nicholas Robinson+

19-Feb-2015
Last updated on 19-Feb-2015 at 09:36 GMT2015-02-19T09:36:53Z

Bruce-Gardyne: 'Gluten-free recipes are so difficult to change'
Bruce-Gardyne: 'Gluten-free recipes are so difficult to change'

Gluten-free (GF) food manufacturers would be hit hard by taxes on high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) content, as calls to make food and drink healthier would leave the sector struggling to reformulate, bosses have warned.

The GF sector was a difficult one to reduce HFSS content, delegates at the Food Manufacture Group’s Business Leaders’ Forum, held at the offices of host sponsor DWF in London, heard last month.

Business leaders at the event were divided over the merits of a tax on ‘unhealthy’ foods to help tackle the UK’s obesity epidemic, following a discussion about whose responsibility it was to manage consumer health. However, those in the GF sector at the forum, which was also sponsored by Lloyds Bank and food testing company ALcontrol Laboratories, were set against such taxes, as many of their products were higher in FSS content than their non-GF variants.

Cost

“GF firms have already worked hard to develop tasty products that fit the needs of consumers avoiding gluten,” said one delegate, who did not want to be named. “But that’s come at a cost of having HFSS content.”

GF foods were already heavily reformulated versions of regular products, the source added. “As a result, it is technically very difficult to reduce HFSS levels without seriously affecting taste and texture at the moment.”

In some GF foods, such as baked goods, FSS content exceeded that of their non-GF variants by more than a quarter, said the source. “It would be extremely difficult to bring that content down even to the levels of their non-GF counterparts – many of which are also considered to be high in FSS.”

Genius founder Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, who revealed the firm was trying to gain a listing with discounters Aldi and Lidl, agreed that FSS content in GF foods was too high.

Reduce content

“We are working to reduce our FSS content, but it is tricky because GF recipes are so difficult to change,” she said. “However, the sector doesn’t just need to consider what it has to take out of its products, we also need to ensure they are more nutritious by including things like fibre.”

It would be interesting to see how GF manufacturers managed to reformulate their products to bring them in line with consumer expectations, said Jonny Bingham, co-founder of ready meal consultancy Bingham and Jones.

“Reformulating any product to reduce FSS is often a difficult task and one that can take a lot of time and money to do,” he added. 

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