Cereal firms defend sugar and salt content levels

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

Kellogg and Nestlé defended themselves over claims its cereals were high in sugar
Kellogg and Nestlé defended themselves over claims its cereals were high in sugar

Related tags Breakfast cereals Breakfast cereal Uk Kellogg

Leading cereal manufacturers are striving to slash sugar and salt content, according to the Association of Cereal Food Manufacturers (ACFM), after it was revealed that more than half of Kellogg’s and Nestlé’s UK breakfast cereals were high in sugar.

A single portion of Kellogg’s Frosties contained 11.1g of sugar in the UK, claimed World Action on Salt & Health (WASH) – the equivalent of more than seven times above 2017 government targets. A WASH survey also found big differences in sugar and salt levels between same brands of cereal in different countries – sometimes almost twice as different (see charts below).

WASH public health nutritionist Saadia Noorani said: “It’s evident that popular breakfast cereals can be manufactured with less salt and sugar, and manufacturers need to do much more to improve their reformulation efforts across all countries​.”

Eight from Kellogg and five from Nestlé

Of the 13 UK cereal brands WASH surveyed (eight from Kellogg and five from Nestlé), none had low levels of sugar or salt, as defined by the government’s 2017 targets. Seven had high levels of sugar (three from Kellogg and four from Néstle).

WASH chairman Graham MacGregor said: “It is shocking that breakfast cereals still contain extremely high levels of salt and sugar. Kellogg and Nestlé are the two main global manufacturers of breakfast cereal and they need to demonstrate that they can act in their customers’ interest to reduce sugar and salt levels to help save lives.”

But, the ACFM – part of the Food and Drink Federation – said there was a huge variety of breakfast cereals on sale in the UK, with some having low levels of sugar and with no added sugar.

What is ACFM?

  • Association of Cereal Food Manufacturers – part of the Food and Drink Federation
  • Represents the interests of all major UK manufacturers of breakfast cereal
  • Member of the European Breakfast Cereal Association (CEEREAL)

‘Flavour, texture, appearance’

“Sugars are added for a variety of roles including flavour, texture, appearance, and to improve the palatability of fibre and grains,”​ an ACFM spokesman said.

“The country​s leading cereal manufacturers are actively looking for opportunities to support government​s aims of improving diets including through recipe change. The latest UK government data show that breakfast cereals contribute just 5% of added sugars and less than 2% of salt to the national diet.”

Meanwhile, Waitrose lowered the sugar content of its own-label cereal​ earlier this month. A total of 27 cereals had their sugar content slashed by 15%, with some products falling by 30%.

What Kellogg and Nestlé say about the WASH sugar and salt content survey

  • Kellogg: “There may be variations in recipes around the world due to consumer preference, but we are proud of the progress we’ve made against our global sugar and sodium reduction targets we set to achieve by 2020. In fact, the majority of our cereals now have 10g or less of sugar per 30g serving, and by 2020, 90% of our cereals will have 10g of sugar or less per 30g serving. In the UK alone, we will have removed more than 2,000t of sugar in our cereals by the end of next year.”
  • Nestlé: ​[We’ve] made significant progress in reducing the sugar and salt content of our cereals over the past decade without compromising on quality or taste. Across countries, we’ve reduced the sugar in our products by up to 30% and offer low or no added sugar cereals such as Shredded Wheat.”

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