Speaking at the UK launch of Coco Pops Choc ‘N’ Roll – a new cereal being marketed on the basis of reduced sugar levels – Alyson Greenhalgh-Ball said that it was crucial to examine the total nutrient profile of cereals.
“It’s all about the ratio – we don’t just eat sugar, we eat carbohydrates, wholegrain, vitamins and minerals. So I’d like to look at food as a whole and encourage journalists, or whoever, to always look at food as a whole.”
Greenhalgh-Ball said that Kellogg’s had undertaken a large study showing how attitudes to foods vary in the EU as opposed to the UK:
“In Europe they have this wonderful ability to look at a food and say ‘that’s great because it’s got calcium in which is good for bone strength’, looking at the whole picture.
“On the other hand we tend to pick out negative nutrients rather than look at the bigger picture – that’s what I would like to see change.”
A recent mysupermarket.com survey found that a bowl of Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Cornflakes contained more sugar (13.6g per 40g serving) than a jam doughnut, ignoring the fact that the latter has, for instance, much higher levels of fat.
Greenhalgh-Ball said that some surveys were misguided: “100g serving comparisons in particular are unhelpful to the consumer – it should always be done on a per portion basis, and based upon what children actually eat.”
She said that cereals generally are a healthy category: providing less than 2% of total UK dietary fat intake, less than 3% of the salt, and only 3.5% of the total sugar intake.
Greenhalgh-Ball also underlined sugar’s crucial function in food:“Sugar makes food palatable – if we just produced wholegrains without flavours that was not a tasty product then it would be completely inedible.
“Additional technical functions allow us to colour the foods – without sugar it wouldn’t go brown and it needs sugar, starches or carbohydrates to caramelise.”
Sugar also played a key textural role, she said: “Sugar keeps cereals crunchy and stable in milk, otherwise they’d go soggy very quickly.”
Despite the importance of sugar, Kellogg’s has responded to consumer concerns by launching its new Coco Pops line as part of an “active reduction” programme that follows FSA nutrient profiles to cut sugar and salt levels.
Choc ‘N’ Roll will be marketed to parents as a tasty yet healthy children’s cereal: high in fibre, made with wholegrain, a source of six B vitamins, iron, Vitamin D and calcium. While containing less salt and sugar than other market leaders such as Coco Shreddies, Nesquik and Sugar Puffs, it will also be sold at a lower price.
Kellogg’s managing director Greg Peterson said the firm was aiming at a 15% reduction of sugar in all Coco Pops cereals by August 2011. With Choc ‘N’ Roll providing “only” 10% of the adult and child GDA of sugar per 30g serving, he estimated that it would take 737 tonnes of sugar out of the UK’s national diet annually.
Peterson said:“It’s relatively easy to take sugar, salt out of a cereal and add wholegrain into it. It’s a lot harder to make it tasty. To reduce sugar in Coco Pops you don’t have many ingredients to play with, so it took us two years to formulate.”