Netmums and Sugarwise survey reveals parents’ “struggle to find low sugar foods in-store”

14/09/2017 - 08:55
A survey undertaken by parenting website, Netmums, and Sugarwise, has found that 80% of UK parents regularly search for low/no sugar foods – with 30% finding it difficult to find products in-store.

Despite this, there is clear demand for healthier alternatives – 40% of participants saying they would be “happy to pay more for healthy option foods as long as the products taste good.” Shining light on the situation, Sugarwise chief executive and founder, Rend Platings, commented: “As the international certification authority for sugar claims, we know that lower sugar manufacturers are struggling to get stocked in the major supermarkets [despite being able to produce at a large-scale capacity.]

“We have certified over 400 lower sugar products, only a fraction of which have made it onto shelf – 80% of the time they are refused listings, with sugar normally not on the retailer’s agenda. This is incomprehensible to me. And it’s a huge missed opportunity for public health.”

Editor in chief of Netmums Anne-Marie O’Leary, added: “Childhood obesity is a national concern and Netmums users are increasingly worried about the levels of sugar consumption by children. Yet, our survey shows despite consumer demand for more low sugar formulations and the willingness to pay more if needed for low sugar options, retailers are failing to make these products available on shelf.”

Carried out ahead of a Westminster Sugar Summit discussing the availability of lower sugar choices for consumers – and children in particular - the research also revealed:

  • “Manufacturers of lower sugar products are routinely told by retailers refusing to list them that sugar is ‘not a priority’”

  • 75% of parents would be willing to spend more on low sugar/good taste foods if they were available

  • 38% of parents have most trouble finding healthy lunchbox snacks
  • of parents have been unable to find low/no sugar breakfast cereal; 15% low/no sugar deserts; 17% low/no sugar pasta sauces; 12% are unable to find low/no sugar baking ingredients

Accompanying the news, participants cited the following as “foods they would like to see low sugar versions of at their local supermarket,” in order of preference:

1) Sweet biscuits

2) Sweetened or flavoured yogurt

3) Sweet breakfast cereal

4) Sweet cakes/pastries

5) Jams and sweet spreads

6) Puddings

7) Chocolate

8) Ice Cream

9) Dairy desserts

10) Confectionary

At the Sugar Summit, Rend said:
"Today is the first meeting of a new Alliance dedicated to manufactured food and drink that is better for public health, and I am delighted to announce that the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) is the first retailer to join. The RVS is the largest retailer in the NHS with some 500 outlets including cafes and shops across hospitals in the UK and Scotland.

“Older people rely on prepared and convenient food often and their better health requires this to be better. The RVS have shown absolute commitment to the mission of healthier food and drink and are providing people who visit there outlets more and more of what they want.

"The first founding members of the new International alliance are SweetLeaf Stevia Sweeteners, based in Arizona, the largest brand in the US natural foods marketplace, and the iconic Sun-Maid Growers of California, the largest producer of raisins and dried fruit in the world.

"We’d like all major retailers, manufacturers, charities, the government and other stakeholders to seize this opportunity. We'd like all retailers to make lower sugar products a priority on their shelves and give parents what they are looking for.”

Taking place on 13 September at Westminster, The Sugar Summit will be chaired by Keith Vaz MP, chair of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG) for Diabetes.  

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