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Food products which have a high amount of salt, sugar and fat, are coming under increasing pressure, as they are associated with diet-related diseases.

The European Union requires that the amount of added sugar in processed foods be reduced by 10% by 2020. While there are already guidelines on sugar consumption and information for consumers in some European countries, Germany is still missing a national strategy. But the pressure is building, not only in the area of tax on sugary foods, but also by the demands and initiatives of the trade. These are challenges of today which the market must overcome.

But how?

It is not sufficient to simply reduce ingredients, as this would usually change the complete flavour experience of the product. Artificial sweeteners and flavours are not accepted by modern consumers, they call for naturalness. Therefore successful reformulation will be a very complex process


A holistic approach must be taken, when reducing sugar, fat or salt, as each ingredient affects several levels. Sugar, for example, not only sweetens the product but at the same time, gives it body and a special mouthfeel.

The redesign of a recipe would require not only the consideration of analytical data of ingredients but also the results of sensory testing. It should initially be clarified, what the enjoyment value of an existing product entails and which attributes are important to the consumer.

These must remain in the reformulation, otherwise the product would lose its taste identity and with it, its acceptance. During this complex analysis, product developers can decipher every recipe and name the specific functionalities of the ingredients.

On this basis, it is decided whether a simple reduction or the exchange of single ingredients will achieve the objective, or whether the structure of the whole product needs to be revised. The reduction or reformulation is not only determined by the taste requirements. New raw materials cannot lead to a price increase of the product, legal frameworks must be fulfilled and not everything which seems initially to be an adequate replacement actually is. For example sugar can be replaced by honey, although this unfortunately does not reduce the total sugar content. When the reformulation is completed, it is advisable to carry out a final sensory comparison test with the initial product. With a sufficiently large panel, the certainty is gained that the revised product will later also be accepted by the consumers.

This complex process and revisions are frequently carried out by external companies who are specialised in recipes and can rely on their many years of experience. Should the revised product reach the market, one can pursue two different communication strategies: The silent reformulation, which usually follows a gradual change, without the knowledge of the consumer. Or an active communication of the reformulation in an advertising campaign or on the packaging – according to the principle:

Do good and talk about it.