The number of overweight and obese people continues to rise, with excessive sugar remaining one of the major culprits. "But the number of companies that make products which contain less sugar while retaining a similar taste and texture is also rapidly rising," says Joost Blankestijn, programme manager of Food Innovations for Responsible Choices at Wageningen University and Research (WUR). "Reformulation – and sugar reduction in particular – has become mainstream."
The Food Reformulation Workshop for the baking and confectionery industry on Thursday 4 April will see WUR will present the highlights of its expertise on reformulation.
"There is plenty of knowledge on reformulation," Blankestijn continues. "The government is encouraging sugar reduction with its National Prevention Agreement and companies are increasingly showing interest, determination and transparency in relation to their working methods. In short, the road is open for a reformulation revolution."
The tipping point will be visibly illustrated during the workshop. "Decades of research into reformulation have provided us with substantial knowledge on this topic," explains Martijn Noort, WUR reformulation researcher. "A number of competing ingredient suppliers will present their tastiest sugar-free cake and take part in a taste test for the participants – the ultimate proof of increasing transparency. And last but not least, this will be the first time all stakeholders – companies, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, and the Dutch Food Industry Federation – will come together to share know-how."
The workshop will be opened by Marian Geluk, director of the Dutch Food Industry Federation. She will speak about the agreement on healthy product composition and the need for reformulation within the food sector. Two major Dutch foundations active in diabetes prevention and kidney health will provide an introduction to the importance of sugar and salt reduction, followed by three Wageningen experts who will share their knowledge on this theme.
Martijn Noort will kick off the workshop with a presentation on improving the nutritional values of bakery products. Ruud van der Sman, a world-leading scientist in the field of applying physics to food materials, will sketch the theoretical framework of sugar replacement in bakery products based on two key physical indicators. Stefano Renzetti, an internationally recognised scientist in the field of sugar and fat reduction and dietary fibre enrichment in pastries and bakery products, will conclude with a presentation on how to apply this fundamental knowledge to food products and look into the future, asking: How can we develop products that are both healthy and tasty?
WUR has been researching reformulation for decades. The results have included this whitepaper on its sugar reduction strategy.