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Kennedy's Bakery Production Magazine | May 29, 2020

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McVitie’s to reduce sugar levels in new biscuit recipes

McVitie’s to reduce sugar levels in new biscuit recipes

McVitie’s has slashed the amount of sugar across a variety of the nation’s favourite biscuits by up to 10% as government pressure on firms to help tackle obesity ramps up. As much as 785 tonnes of sugar has been cut from Britons' diets every year by McVitie's owner Pladis, or so the company said, after it reducedsugar in nine of its best-selling snacks. 

The recipes for the likes of Digestives, Rich Tea biscuits, Ginger Nuts, and Chocolate Hobnobs have been reformulated, with both sugar and salt cut. McVitie’s Original Digestives now have nine per cent less sugar and five per cent less salt, for example, with 16.6g of sugar per 100g slashed to 15.1g. 

Pladis assured consumers that the biscuits still contain "the same unique sweet and savoury taste combination" and said the treats fell well below Public Health England's recommended target of 16.2g per 100g already. 

The changes have affected some of the country's most popular and highest-selling sweet biscuits and may yet spark outrage from fans:  

  • McVitie’s Rich Tea biscuits now contain 18.5g of sugar per 100g 
  • McVitie’s Original Hobnobs now contain 22.9g of sugar per 100g 
  • McVitie’s Milk Chocolate Digestives now contain 28.5g sugar per 100g 
  • McVitie’s Dark Chocolate Digestives now contain 26.6g sugar per 100g 

McVitie's said “the new recipes were achieved through a careful re-balancing of ingredients to reduce sugar and salt,” but maintain the biscuits' “distinctive taste.” According to the brand, recipe developers even made sure the biscuits tasted exactly the same when dunked in a cup of tea and used a “mechanical dunking arm” in the laboratory to record the time to break. 

David Murray, Managing Director of Pladis UK & Ireland, said: “For years, we have been working on reducing sugar in the nation’s favourite biscuits. It is an exceptionally complex process because our fundamental philosophy is that we will absolutely not compromise on taste or the quality of ingredients.” 

He added, “99.1% of all households in the UK buy biscuits and McVitie’s continues to be the number one biscuit brand in the UK, so we know that if we are to truly help the nation lead healthier lives, we need to take sugar out of our biggest-selling biscuits. However, we have an incredibly loyal fan base who have grown up eating our biscuits, so if they no longer liked the taste then the whole programme would fail.  

“By testing our new lower-sugar biscuits with hundreds of consumers to ensure that they cannot tell the difference, and by implementing a process of careful rebalancing of ingredients, we have reduced sugar and salt while maintaining the unique sweet and savoury taste combination that makes McVitie’s biscuits so distinctive.” 

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “We’re pleased that McVitie’s is the latest household name to commit to offering healthier products. This announcement shows reducing sugar in biscuits is possible and we look forward to seeing further reductions in the future.”