Food manufacturers should prepare for increased scrutiny over nutritive claims according to global food safety certification specialists, Lloyd’s Register, following growing commitments from retailers to move towards selling healthier products.
It follows a growing trend being seen in major UK retailers making commitments to sell healthier food and drinks and taking the lead in supporting the fight to tackle obesity.
With retailers looking to seek healthier options, Lloyd’s Register is warning food manufacturers that they should prepare for added pressure to rethink how they approach nutritive and functional claims in their products.
According to the World Health Organisation, worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975, with more than 38 million children under the age of five overweight or obese in 2019. The commitments from retailers are not exclusive to the UK, either.
The promotion of healthy lifestyles is a key health and nutrition policy objective for both the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection in Germany.
Kimberly Carey Coffin, global technical director at Lloyd’s Register, said: “Governments and consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with health and nutrition, due to rising statistics around obesity and diabetes across the world. We can therefore expect to see more retailers commit to selling healthier foods, and manufacturers must be prepared to adapt.
“As part of this, manufacturers will need to meet the challenge to prioritise nutrients and potential health benefits in future product development.
“However, they must be alert and ensure that any nutritive or functional claims, such as lowering cholesterol or boosting immunity, can be substantiated. If processes for evidence-based validation of claims are not in place, brand reputation may be at risk.”
Research from Lloyd’s Register highlighted that food issues impact brand trust, with one in five UK shoppers having changed brands following reports of a food safety incident or product recall.
Ms Coffin added: “Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy about their dietary decisions, selecting foods that deliver health and wellbeing, and it is reasonable to assume that scrutiny will grow in the area of nutritive and functional claims.
“Manufacturers must do all they can to ensure that healthy alternatives are authentic and can be substantiated.”