Gordon Polson, director of the Federation of Bakers, reviews the challenges bakers face when addressing the recently announced sugar reduction targets

Government agency Public Health England has set specific targets to reduce the amount of sugar in certain food groups by 2020, and has challenged the baking industry to reduce the amount in morning goods to 10g per 100g.

When reviewing the government’s targets, it is important to highlight that the morning goods category encompasses a wide range of products, including – but not limited to – crumpets, pastries, bagels, English muffins, pancakes and croissants.

Some already meet the government’s guidelines. For example, crumpets contain as little as 2g or 3g of sugar per 100g. However, many products in the morning goods category differ vastly in terms of the total sugars and added sugars present, meaning a reduction across the board is challenging.

An important point to note is that several products in the morning goods category contain fruit, such as tea cakes and fruited buns. Fruit contains naturally occurring sugar, which contributes to the total amount of sugar found in these products. The challenge is that the sugar in fruit cannot be reduced, so if the industry is looking at cutting back on sugar in products such as these, it will need to significantly decrease the sugar in the main body of the product.

Furthermore, the substitution of sugar with sweeteners in baked goods is forbidden under European regulation, a fact that contributes to the difficulties faced by the morning goods category when addressing the government’s new targets.

When looking at the specifics, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to ensuring the baking industry can meet the new guidelines by 2020.

On a nationwide level, businesses and the government must work together to create open lines of communication and collaboration throughout this transitional period. As part of this, the Federation of Bakers is working to keep members informed of the changes through regular updates and education. This is key to keeping businesses aligned and on track.

As 2020 approaches, the baking industry will be considering all possible options on how to contribute to the sugar reduction targets and will continue to evolve this conversation as the guidelines are progressed.

Addressing the challenges faced by the morning goods category and identifying mutually beneficial solutions is a top priority moving forward.