Valio launches its sugar initiative: the range of low-sugar snacks will be extended

Finns’ sugar intake has generated a degree of discussion, and consumers are looking for more alternatives containing less sugar. Valio is responding to the consumers’ wishes and will extend its range of snacks with a lower sugar content. Our goal is to halve the sugar content of our milk-based snack products, especially yoghurts, by 2020 – without compromising on taste.

“Sugar awareness is a growing trend in Finland and further afield. Studies indicate that half of European consumers are striving to reduce their sugar consumption. Valio responds to consumer needs and so will focus its research increasingly on reducing sugar content,” says Elli Siltala, Vice President, Marketing.

One in two Finns would reduce sugar consumption

Consumer attitudes regarding sugar and other sweeteners vary. What suits one person may not be good for another. Consumers can accept the use of sugar in delicacy products, but want to reduce the sugar content of basic everyday foods.

According to a broad study on sugar conducted by Taloustutkimus (March 2014), one in two Finns would reduce or avoid the use of sugar. In the NEPA Snacking and Cooking Product Tree Study 2014 commissioned by Valio, a little over one-fifth of the respondents chose sugar as the best sweetener due to its natural origins. Around one-third said they take note of the quantity of sugar in foods, and would like to see alternatives with a lower sugar content on the market. 14 per cent of the respondents wanted to minimise the quantity of sugar and calories in their food, and consequently saw artificial sweeteners as the best alternative.

The World Health Organization is concerned about peoples’ sugar intake and recommends reducing the quantity of added sugar in your diet. The current recommendation is that a maximum of 10% of the daily energy intake should come from added sugar. WHO has proposed an even stricter recommendation of 5% for sugar intake. According to the Finravinto 2012 nutrition study, the sugar intake of adults in Finland falls just within the limit (9–10%), but as many as 80% of the country’s children consume too much sugar compared to the WHO recommendations (Aino-Maija Eloranta, doctoral dissertation, 2014).

This is how we will halve the sugar content

Valio is already a pioneer in low-sugar products. One-third of Valio’s milk-based snack products sold in Finland are sugar-free or contain at least 30% less added sugar compared to ordinary snack products.

“Our point of departure is excellent by international comparison. It’s a good basis for further development, and we believe our expertise in making products that contain less sugar but are nevertheless equally tasty will be of benefit in the export market, too,” says Elli Siltala.

Valio will launch its sugar initiative by extending its range of snack products containing less added sugar for both adults and children, and by communicating the sugar content of the products more clearly e.g. on package labels and on the Valio website.

In September, Valio will launch new yoghurts with less sugar. Valiojogurtti® rahkainen will be a better choice in two respects – the yoghurt contains high-protein quark and low-sugar yoghurt. There will be spoonable yoghurts and fashionable drinking yoghurts.

The innovations developed and patented by Valio will allow for a further reduction in the sugar content of snack products over the next five years.

Dairy products can contain two kinds of sugar: naturally occurring and added. Dairy product ingredients, i.e. milk, berries and fruit, contain naturally occurring sugar. Milk contains milk sugar, or lactose, at around 5 g/100 g. Many flavoured dairy products contain also added sugar.

Consumers can tell us which products they would like to see with a lower sugar content. The suggestions will be collected via Valio’s Facebook page throughout the summer, but suggestions can be submitted at any time through any of Valio’s social media channels.