Upcoming high-fat, salt and sugar legislation is set to challenge traditional marketing methods for baked goods and patisserie brands at retail level. Here, Puratos UK outlines the scale of the problem and illustrates ways to tackle the issue with bespoke product solutions and technical support.

HFSS cake cropped

As part of a nationwide government scheme to reduce childhood obesity, in October 2022 advertising rules on high fat, salt and sugar products (HFSS) will become stricter, bringing monumental changes to retail and foodservice. Products will be allocated a score based on nutritional criteria set out by Department of Health’s Nutrient Profiling Model and anything over a score ‘4’ will see new restrictions on ‘bulk’ advertising and in-store/online placement.

It has been suggested that the new restrictions will cause up to a £1bn problem for retailers by losing valuable revenue. This will see pressure mount on industrial players to create and advertise new formulations of current ranges while inspiring with healthier innovation.

These new restrictions bring a whole host of considerations to manufacturers, ranging from reformulation of products, increased costs in raw material, technical and time-based challenges, complexity of HFSS rules and scoring, and of course consumer acceptance.

Covid-19 has brought a new awareness to health, the relationship between consumer and food has shifted, people are looking for healthier choices, new concepts and are open to reformulation. Two criteria that must remain consistent are taste and texture – as identified by Puratos’ Global Consumer Study Taste Tomorrow. Products must taste good and have a great texture to ensure repeat purchase.

For the consumer, healthy products are made up of two main criteria: removing the bad and increasing the good. This mirrored by the new HFSS regulations – reducing the ‘bad’ nutrients to lower the initial score and improve the score by adding vegetable, nuts, fruit, protein and fibre (restrictions apply).

“Creating indulgent products with low fat, sugar and sodium is a challenge because of the functional benefits of the individual ingredients”

Olivia Creber, R&D patisserie specialist, Puratos UK


Olivia Creber, R&D patisserie specialist at Puratos UK, says: “Creating indulgent products with low fat, sugar and sodium is a challenge, both as an ingredients supplier and for our customers because of the functional benefits of the individual ingredients.

“Sugar is a multifaceted component in bakery products; not only does it help with flavour and colour but also contributes towards batter viscosity in cakes, slowing down protein coagulation, increasing starch gelatinisation temperature – therefore allowing products to expand in the oven. It also increases moisture retention, controls mould growth – thus reducing food wastage, and in cakes it aids the incorporation of air. Finding other ingredients that mimic all these functional qualities and that are healthier than sugar has been difficult.

“Fat, like sugar, also has many functional properties within bakery, influencing shape, taste, texture and flavour,” she notes.

“Naturally occurring sodium within ingredients, unfortunately can not be eliminated. Added salt is used to control the fermentation process in bakery products and a way of reducing mould growth within confectionery as it is a natural preservative. Sodium is also a base for baking powders used in cake to give them the volume and texture that is so desirable, therefore it is difficult to take out all sources of sodium from products and it is in them in many different forms.”

“The legislation will drive many brands to cease historically profitable ways of working and resort to focusing entirely on the main fixture and post-watershed or alternative targeted advertising”

Peter Dunn, senior key account manager, Puratos UK

Peter Dunn, senior key account manager at Puratos UK, adds: “Retailers and brands face a number of challenges, as a result of the HFSS legislation. Imagine the adverts about your favourite chocolate bar after your favourite soap or imagine the centre aisle at your local supermarket today with well-executed promotional space, side stacks and deep-cut promotions, offering the biggest brands at great prices. The legislation will drive many brands to cease these historically profitable ways of working and resort to focusing entirely on the main fixture and post-watershed or alternative targeted advertising .”

HFSS propped cake cropped

Dunn points out that brands willing to reformulate HFSS products or develop entirely new products to meet the Department of Health nutrient profiling model parameters will retain traditional advertising and promotional flexibility. Some brands will have a product(s) in the portfolio that meets the guidelines so could perhaps ‘lead’ with that product in traditional adverts and activation .

He also shares the potential: “Let’s also be really clear, with this challenge comes great opportunity for brands to adapt to a new world and, if done well, could make significant gains where others have unfortunately lost.”

“At Puratos, health and wellness are part of our DNA,” notes Creber “For years, our NPD teams have been working on fat, sugar and salt reduction in products using new and traditional technologies and methods to produce products that not only have a better nutritionals but also taste great and have great texture, always striving to be as clean-label as possible. We also offer cost-saving solutions that can help balance out the increased costs associated with ‘healthier’ alternatives.”

“If a solution to an HFSS-sized problem is something you are looking for, then Puratos is the ideal partner for you,” adds Puratos UK marketing manager Lydia Baines. “Our team of experts can help with your creations, help you assess where your current range sits with our exclusively developed HFSS calculator and the next steps. In September, we will be running exclusive webinars sharing our experiences with you, and our team will be on hand to answer questions. More information can be found on our dedicated web page https://www.puratos.co.uk/en/campaigns/HFSS or if you would like to contact the team directly email info_uk@puratos.com – we look forward to your challenges.”