Reformulation as an Integrated Approach of Four Disciplines: A Qualitative Study with Food Companies
2.1.1. Study Group and Procedure
2.1.2. Choice of Different Food Sectors
2.2. Data Analyses
3.1. Incentives and Barriers for Reformulation
3.2. Food Technology
“What our company does well is to reduce the amount of E-numbers. In ‘Filet Americain’ we reduced them from 21 to 7, which is positive”.(Company in the meat sector)
“We are reducing E-numbers in our products. Customers frequently ask if there are E-numbers in our products. We use as few E-numbers as possible. We already have a product concept for E-number-free bread and sausage rolls. Adapting a recipe is primarily adjusting the raw materials, as these contain the E-numbers”.(Company in the bakery sector)
“For a long time our statement was: E-numbers are approved additives and required to make a good and sustainable product. But this year we implemented an E-number policy: nowadays, our company has a classification system with red, orange and green. Red E-numbers in food products must be replaced. The company leaves the orange E-numbers in the products for as long as the private label customer does not object. When the customer objects, we take these E-numbers out. In case of new products, with clean label as unique selling point, we do not use orange E-numbers, but only the green ones”.(Company in the convenience sector)
“Reformulated products should be sold. They are somewhat more expensive, but there is a positive story attached to them and that is selling well”.(Company in the bakery sector)
3.3. Nutrition & Health
3.3.1. Health Impact through a Healthy Product Range
3.3.2. Communication about Nutrition and Health
“We do not communicate to consumers that we reformulate our products. …Once salt is reduced in the product, people will notice. We just want to decrease salt slowly, so that the consumers notice as little as possible”.(Company in the meat sector)
“The government should enforce companies to reformulate their products. We need an independent stakeholder. There are so many different interests.”.(Company in the bakery sector)
“The role of government is very important in reformulation. If the government does nothing and some companies want to tackle the issue and others not, the companies that want to reformulate are at a disadvantage. So, there should be regulation. Everyone should be able to play on the same playing field without problems.”.(Company in the convenience sector)
3.4.1. Legislative Restrictions
3.4.2. Food Labelling, Claims and Health Logos
3.5. Consumer Perspectives
3.5.1. Consumer Trends
3.5.2. Pricing and Branding
3.5.3. The Role of the Retailer in Product Reformulation
3.5.4. Sensory Requirements
“Sensory properties are interrelated. You can manipulate a lot with aroma, colour and taste. That is what we do. Number 1 is that it is a good and tasty product”.(Company in the bakery sector)
“A snack should taste good. That is the customer’s main requirement. Sensory quality is the most important. Reformulated products should not deviate from regular products regarding sensory aspects”.(Company in the meat sector)
4. Discussion & Conclusions
4.1. Strengths and Limitations
Conflicts of Interest
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|Sector||Number of Companies||Number of SME Companies (<50 Million in Sales Revenue or <250 Employees)||Number of Bigger Companies (>50 Million in Sales Revenue or >250 Employees)||Main Products||Job Title of Interviewed Experts|
2 Bread and sweet bakery products
1 Ingredient supplier for Bakery products
1 Food bars
|4 Product developers|
1 Product- and process developer
1 Quality and product manager
|Meat||5||3||2||2 Processed meat|
1 Semi-processed meat products
1 Snack products
1 Ingredient supplier for the meat sector
|3 Product developers|
1 Quality manager
|Convenience||3||2||1||2 Meals (soups and sauces included)|
1 Products for catering (institutions/private)
|1 Director |
1 Product developer/dietician
1 Quality manager
|Key Themes Reformulation||Topics Reformulation|
Size, activities, mission company
Main food products
|General aspects||Experiences company|
Pressure from other companies, government or FNLI (Federation of Dutch Grocery and Food Industry) to reformulate
|Food Technology||Main technological nutrients and principles|
Challenges in reformulation (new technologies)
Reformulated products on the market
Use of additives
Sensory conditions (taste, structure, texture) and conditions for shelf life
|Nutrition & Health||Making food supply healthier|
Importance of health aspects
Impact of food products on consumer health
Partnerships with food companies, government or research institutes
Reformulation in other nutrients
Use of nutrition & health claims and advantages or disadvantages
Use of health logos
Taking into account the Agreement on Improvement of Product Composition
Governmental measures to enforce companies to reformulate
|Consumer Perspectives||Role of consumers in company decision to reformulate|
Responding to (which) consumer trends
Communication to consumers about reformulated products
Reaction of food companies to consumer demand for clean label products
Consumer reaction to reformulated products
Consumer buying behaviour according reformulated products
|Other relevant aspects||Not mentioned aspects/relevant knowledge of companies|
|Target Nutrient(s) Reformulation||Function Target Nutrient||Reformulation Solutions||Technological Challenges|
|Bakery sector (n = 9)|
|Sugar reduction (sweet bakery products (n = 4) *||Preservative, taste, bulk, structure, brown colouring||Addition of sweeteners and alternative bulk ingredients, such as fat||Difficult to replace as bulk ingredient; substitution with sweeteners decreases shelf life (risk of spoilage) & changes of the dough and product structure|
|(Saturated) fat reduction (sweet bakery products (n = 4)||Bulk, structure, taste||Reduction of total fat; substitution with unsaturated fat from rapeseed oil or sunflower oil; addition of additives||Difficult to replace as bulk ingredient, difficulties to structure different fat phases, leading to impaired product quality; higher costs of unsaturated fat ingredients|
|Salt reduction (bread (n = 3)||Taste, dough structure||Substitution with potassium chloride (E508), monosodium glutamate, MSG (E621); addition of bread improver b (no E-number)||Successfully lowered|
|E number reduction (n = 4)||Various||Innovative technique to replace oxygen in packages; Replacement by natural alternatives.||Concern about microbiological safety; natural colourings are unstable; emulsifiers are difficult to replace; costs are higher.|
|Addition of whole grain, oat, spelt, fibres, nuts, protein, vitamins, antioxidants and calcium (n = 6)||Health benefits||None mentioned||None mentioned|
|Meat sector (n = 5)|
|Salt reduction (n = 4) *||Preservative, taste||Substitution of salt with potassium lactate (E326), natural minerals; gasification; addition of antioxidants (vitamin C or E: E300, E308); heat treatment; high pressure processing (HPP a)||Difficult to substitute salt and maintain good shelf-life & sensory quality at acceptable costs and not use E numbers in ’clean label’ products.|
|(Saturated) fat reduction (n = 5)||Structure, taste||Substitution of fat with water; extrusion; addition of fibres and starches. Snacks: use of ‘air fryer’ (out of home market)||Efficiency and costs without use of E-numbers in ’clean label’ products.|
|Sugar reduction (n = 1)||Brown colouring, binding with proteins||None mentioned||None mentioned|
|E number reduction (n = 1)||Various||None mentioned||Costs are often higher, higher price is a problem. Efficiency and costs are challenges|
|Protein enrichment (n = 1)||Structure||Addition of protein to bind water and fat for firmer easier to slice meat||None mentioned|
|Convenience sector(n = 3)|
|Salt reduction (n = 2) *||Taste||Substitution with taste intensifiers, such as herbs, MSG (E621) or potassium chloride (E508)||Mostly easy, sometimes a challenge (good taste)|
|Sugar reduction (n = 2)||Taste||Sugar reduction (30%) in 3 years. Substitution with sweeteners (Stevia, Steviol glycosides, E960)||Stevia is not heat stable and has a bitter taste; alternative sugar substitutes and techniques are needed|
|E number reduction (n = 2)||Various||Substitution with ’natural’ alternatives||Costs are often higher|
|Enrichment with vitamins and minerals (n = 2)||Health benefits||Use of raw materials, mild processing (better preservation vitamins)||Concern about the microbiological safety/shelf life of ultra-fresh meals|
|Meat (n = 5)||Bakery (Only Sweet Bakery) (n = 9) *||Convenience (n = 3)|
|Nutrition claims/Health logos used **|
|Reason not to use nutrition claim or health logos **|
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Van Gunst, A.; Roodenburg, A.J.C.; Steenhuis, I.H.M. Reformulation as an Integrated Approach of Four Disciplines: A Qualitative Study with Food Companies. Foods 2018, 7, 64. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods7040064
Van Gunst A, Roodenburg AJC, Steenhuis IHM. Reformulation as an Integrated Approach of Four Disciplines: A Qualitative Study with Food Companies. Foods. 2018; 7(4):64. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods7040064Chicago/Turabian Style
Van Gunst, Annelies, Annet J. C. Roodenburg, and Ingrid H. M. Steenhuis. 2018. "Reformulation as an Integrated Approach of Four Disciplines: A Qualitative Study with Food Companies" Foods 7, no. 4: 64. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods7040064