McVitie’s has cut the sugar in nine of its biscuit brands by up to 10%, removing a total of 785 tonnes of sugar from the nation’s diets every year.

The biscuit manufacturer has reformulated Original Digestives, Rich Tea, Chocolate Digestives (Milk and Dark), Original Hobnobs, Chocolate Hobnobs (Milk and Dark), Caramel Digestives and Ginger Nuts – which make up 50% of all of its sales in the UK.

McVitie’s Original Digestives, the first of the reformulated biscuits to hit the shelves, now has 9% less sugar and 5% less salt. They used to contain 16.6g of sugar per 100g but now have 15.1g of sugar per 100g. McVitie’s insisted they had the same “unique sweet and savoury taste combination”.

Public Health England (PHE) has set individual target sugar levels for a range of food and drink categories, and challenged industry to hit this targets by the end of this year. McVitie’s pointed out that Original Digestives were ‘well below’ the 26.2g per 100g target for the biscuit category.

The sugar content of other items in its portfolio now stands as:

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

The new recipes have been achieved through a ‘careful re-balancing’ of ingredients to get below, or as close to, PHE’s target while maintaining their original taste.

Pladis’ research and development team tested the change with hundreds of consumers and used a mechanical dunking arm in the laboratory to ensure they tasted the same as when they were dunked.

“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 the taste or quality of ingredients,” said David Murray, managing director of Pladis UK & Ireland.

“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.”