A healthy looking cake with banana in it

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A heightened interest in health and wellbeing is fuelling demand for reduced sugar and calorie products, new research shows.

The European Bakery Industry report, commissioned by Tate & Lyle, surveyed 400 senior bakery professionals across Germany, France, Spain and the UK.

As many as 73% of respondents said foods with a lower sugar and calorie content were “the biggest driver of business growth”. 

It comes as Mr Kipling adds Viennese Whirls to its reduced sugar range, following the launch of 30% Less Sugar Angel, Chocolate and Lemon slices in 2019.

The study found that more than two thirds (74%) of respondents were reducing the calorie content of products, 71% were cutting sugar levels and 54% were driving down fat levels. 

Meanwhile, more than half (54%) were focussed on free-from products, and 48% were looking to improve the product-consumption experience. 

The survey, which polled bakery executives in roles ranging from production and sales to research and development, HR and marketing, also revealed that 51% believed consumers were more likely to choose foods that offer additional nutritional benefits, such as added protein and added fibre.

And 44% said a substantial proportion would be willing to pay more for healthy and nutritious foods, while 34% claimed shoppers were increasingly looking beyond the labels on products for details of nutritional contents.

“More and more people are looking for ways to stay healthy and improve their wellbeing, a trend that has been building for a while and continues to grow,” said Olivier Kutz, category development manager, Tate & Lyle, Europe.

“Paying more for products with enriched nutritional benefits has accelerated, as consumers gain interest in, and understanding of, exactly what is in the products they buy. A heightened awareness of healthier diets and the long-term health implications of the Covid-19 pandemic has also meant people spending more time at home and taking up baking as a hobby are wanting to use healthier products where possible.”

Food and drink companies in the UK are working towards voluntary sugar reduction targets, as laid out by government agency Public Health England. Recent figures revealed progress in cakes and biscuits remained well below the 20% reduction outlined for 2020, versus a baseline of 2015.