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In healthy diet the whole is more important than details

Consumers are increasingly interested in sugar levels of foods. At Raisio, we regard healthiness as an important objective in our snack products.

In recent years, consumers' interest in the sugar levels of food products has increased in Europe. Nutrition guidelines recommend choosing high-quality, fibre-rich carbohydrates and avoiding excessive use of sugar. But what is the appropriate amount of sugar?

The image of healthiness that we get through the media is changing rapidly. In the current debate, sugar has been labelled as an unhealthy nutrient. According to nutrition guidelines, a small amount of sugar, up to 10 per cent of daily energy, is allowed also in healthy diets. According to the guidelines, a diet that promotes and maintains health is characterised by high intake of vegetables, fruits, berries, fish, vegetable oils and whole grains, lower intake of meat, meat products, sugary foods and beverages and only little salt. In other words, the whole is more important than details. Moderate use of sugar and occasional treats do not wreck the whole.

Healthy diet consists of high-quality foods

It is seldom possible to assess the healthiness of a food based on the amount of a single nutrient since many things are related to each other in a diet. Healthy diet consists of good foods. It is of course important to make sure that sugar does not displace more nutritious foods in the diet, but according to our nutrition experts, it is even more important to consider a food product as a whole. A sugar-free product may be poor in other nutritional values in which case, it is not necessarily a better option than a product that contains little sugar but a lot of good fibre of wholegrain oats, beta-glucan, and minerals.

The starting point in Raisio's product development is that the healthiness of a product cannot be measured by its sugar levels only. For example, a healthy snack may contain a small amount of sugar if the product is otherwise nutritionally balanced. According to the criteria for sustainable nutrition, Raisio chooses its raw materials on the basis of their nutritional value. As the product range is designed, different diets are also taken into account.

Versatile product range to meet consumers' needs and wishes

We have worked a lot on the product development in order to create alternatives containing less sugar – and this work continues. In Raisio's products, we prefer to use healthy basic raw materials and to add sugar, fat and salt as little as possible.

The main part of Raisio's food products sold in Finland are basic grain products with no added sugar. Next year, to meet consumer wishes, we will launch low-sugar options to complement our existing range of sweetened instant porridges.

In the UK, the recipe of Honey Monster cereals was modified so that the product now contains 33 per cent less sugar. This year, our renewed packages were equipped with a voluntary GDA (Guideline Daily Amount) label in the form of traffic lights. Our aim is to provide consumers with clear information on products to support their choices.

Raisio also owns confectionery plants in the UK and Czech Republic. The UK confectionery businesses have been transferred to Raisio as part of the acquisitions completed. In confectionery too, our goal is to provide consumers with healthier alternatives. In many products, sugar is replaced by various ingredients, such as fruit juices.