While the government has deferred some elements of its controversial high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) legislation to next year, the move will still have seismic effects on the baking industry. So how can bakery manufacturers reformulate their products to boost sweetness levels without sacrificing flavour?

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What is HFSS, and why do we need it?

In 2019, the NHS carried out a nationwide health study to monitor trends in the UK’s health and found that an estimated 28.0% of adults in England are obese, and a further 36.2% are overweight. With numbers like this, it is no surprise that the UK Government have chosen to implement new legislation to decrease obesity.

The UK Government has repeatedly pushed back the launch date for these new rules, with the latest deferral of parts of the legislation until next year. However, in October 2022, it will introduce some of the new restrictions on promoting HFSS products. The overall legislation consists of promotional restrictions that limit the use of volume, location, and online promotions, as well as a ban on all daytime HFSS TV adverts, combined with additional online limits.

Whilst the volume limits, such as buy one get one free, and promotional elements have now been deferred until 2023, retailers will still be required to adhere to legislation on the placement of HFSS products within stores.

The lack of clarity on the overall rules hitherto has resulted in confusion, with many companies underprepared for the new legislation and 20% of companies that will be affected being completely unaware.


Bakers face many challenges in the light of HFSS – in particular, sugar reduction. 42% of consumers want to reduce the amount of sugar they consume, but products on shelves are not reflecting this demand. According to Public Health England, sugar levels in cakes sold through retailers fell by 4.8% between 2017 and 2019, with morning goods falling by 5.6%. These figures are well below the voluntary government target of a 20% reduction by 2020 and were a key driver behind the move to tighter HFSS restrictions.

However, reformulating a recipe is a timely and risky process. To make products HFSS- compliant, well-established brands face the choice of existing product development (EPD) or new product development (NPD). EPD risks changing beloved products too much, affecting brand loyalty, while the risks of NPD are the same as any new product launch – there is no guarantee of success.

Nonetheless, taste is crucial when it comes to bakery products, and consumers will not compromise on that simply in the interests of health. While they are always willing to try new products, they will not make a repeat purchase if the product disappoints on taste.


For over 30 years, TasteTech has thrived by taking on tough challenges and delivering innovative solutions for the food industry, applying technical solutions to help manufacturers create great-tasting products.

HFSS is a particular area of focus for the company, especially reducing sugar in baked goods. Its R&D team has researched how flavourings can help create reduced-sugar alternatives without sacrificing flavour. Internal studies show that its sweetness enhancer flavouring can dramatically increase the sweetness profile of a reduced-sugar application and can be preferred over the full-sugar version.

TasteTech conducted a blind sensory study to determine whether its sweetness enhancer flavour could improve perceived sweetness in a reduced-sugar flapjack using inulin. The study compared a full-sugar flapjack, a reduced-sugar flapjack and a reduced-sugar flapjack with TasteTech sweetness enhancer.

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This study showed that 78% of participants preferred the sweetness-enhanced flapjack over the reduced-sugar flapjack and highlighted that TasteTech’s flavour had improved its overall likeability. Results showed that adding the sweetness enhancer improved the sensory attributes of the reduced-sugar flapjack, bringing it in line with the full-sugar flapjack.

Reducing sugar is just one of the HFSS issues facing bakers. TasteTech is also developing butter flavours designed to boost the perception of fat in reduced-fat products.

Find out more

This study highlights the benefits of using TasteTech’s sweetness enhancer flavour in just one application. The company has had similar success with its range of sweetness enhancer flavours in other types of baked goods. To try its sweetness enhancer flavours in your applications, visit the company’s website for more information.