Sugar coated shortbread biscuits

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A new fund has been launched to assist Scottish businesses in producing healthier baked products.

Businesses eligible for the Healthier Bakery Fund include suppliers of sweet or savoury baked goods such as bread, pies, cakes, and pastries, as well as ingredient manufacturers, local butchers, cafes, restaurants and retailers.

The fund was created through a partnership between trade body Food Standards Scotland (FSS) and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) Scotland, which represents and supports all sizes of companies in the sector.

Companies must be able to at least match funding of between £1,000 and £5,000 towards the total cost of a project that either reduces the fat, sugar, calories or salt content in its ‘much-loved products’. Projects can also help increase fibre or fruit and vegetable content in recipes. The deadline of 30 June has been set to apply for funding.

FDF Scotland’s reformulation for health manager Joanne Burns said she was delighted to launch the initiative, and thanked FSS for providing the £50,000 of funding that had made it possible. “This funding will support food businesses across Scotland to make changes to their recipes that will allow shoppers to enjoy healthier bakery products,” said Burns.

According to FDF Scotland, food and drink producers had shown a real desire to offer a wider range of healthier products, but associated costs had proved to be challenging. The fund allows successful businesses to use up to £5,000 to pay for activities including trialling recipe changes or nutritional testing. This could be simple actions such as swapping shortening for a lower-fat alternative or incorporating wholemeal flour into a recipe.

Earlier this year, FDF Scotland made another £50,000 of funding available as part of its Reformul8 Challenge Fund, which it launched in 2020 to support Scottish food producers with the associated costs of reformulation.

Laura Wilson, head of public health nutrition at FSS, cited reformulation as one of the most effective ways in which the food industry can help improve the everyday products we eat. “Our recent research found that the average calories in sweet bakery products, from out-of-home outlets such as coffee shops, bakeries and cafes, to be over 450, with the highest products reaching over 1,600 calories,” she said.

“This fund will support businesses to provide healthier options for everyone and support a healthier food environment,” she added.

Scottish Bakers president Ian McGhee welcomed the launch of the fund, noting that its members had been “focused for some time” on further improving the quality and quantity of products to meet the growing consumer demand for healthier options.

“However, this must go hand in hand with additional investment in consumer education and awareness on the simple steps people can take to eat more healthily whilst still being allowed the odd sweet treat for which our Scottish bakers are so renowned,” he added.