14 Feb 2018 --- Valio has announced its nutrition agreement for improving the health and well-being of consumers. The ambitious targets for reducing salt and sugar content in Valio’s products by 2020 are part of the United Nations sustainability program and continued efforts to improve public health.
The United Nations’ sustainable development goals for 2016-2030 aim at eradicating poverty and safeguarding wellbeing in environmentally sustainable ways. Alongside contributions from nation-states, however, the efforts of companies are also needed. Valio’s nutrition agreement is part of Finland’s Agenda2030 program.
Valio’s nutrition agreement helps consumers to reduce their use of sugar and salt and makes it easier to make low-salt choices or recipes. From 2015 – annually by 2020. Valio will also provide details of the amount of salt in all Valio recipes by 2020.
“Our commitment is linked in particular to two UN goals: ensuring an adequate standard of food and nutrition and improving health and well-being. Meeting these goals is essential since the world’s population is projected to grow to as much as 9 billion by 2030. In Valio’s sustainability program, we have committed to concrete actions that respond to global nutrition challenges. Innovations to improve health and wellbeing have been part of Valio already for decades since Nobel Prize winner A.I. Virtanen was heading the Valio laboratory,” says Senior Vice President of Research and Technology Anu Kaukovirta-Norja.
Valio Senior Vice President of Research and Technology, Ms. Anu Kaukovirta-Norja spoke with FoodIngredientsFirst: “Valio has always listened carefully to the consumer needs and at the moment we see that in Northern Europe but also in other parts of the world, even globally; the consumers are very concerned about the sugar content in various food products, especially in snack products. Furthermore, parents are not willing to give their children sugar bombs for breakfast or snacking time.”
“Demand for this kind of healthier products is big and therefore we think that these healthier sugar-reduced products will form a core part of our fresh dairy business. When it comes to salt reduction, we believe that our Valio ValSa products with natural milk minerals, less salt but full taste, are unique and will be successful also from the business point of view,” she explains.
“These special agreements with ambitious targets are country-specific and part of the national programs contributing to EU’s or UN’s targets,” she notes. “However, Valio is having a strong position in the neighbor markets (Sweden, Baltics, Russia) and similar type of products will be available also for them as well as for Valio’s global export business. Finlandia Cheese is a well-known Valio brand in US and Valio ValSa products can be part of that category, too.”
Consumer need for health and great-tasting food
The average intake of sugar per person in Finland is almost twice the recommended daily amount of 50g. Among the consequences of this is an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The average consumption level of salt is also often well above the recommended limit, despite it being common knowledge that excessive salt use contributes to cardiovascular disease.
“Great-tasting food is extremely important to people and is not something they want to give up on. The role of Valio and other food companies is to rethink how salt and sugar can be reduced without compromising on taste,” says Kaukovirta-Norja.
Valio’s low-salt product range, cheeses and spreads with Valio ValSa, was launched in 2016, and by the end of 2017, almost four million kilograms of these products were sold. The goal is to bring the annual sale of Valio ValSa products up to seven million kilos by 2020.
“Thanks to the milk salt innovation on which the Valio ValSa products are based, we have reduced salt use in cheeses and spreads by up to 50 percent, without affecting taste. The taste of milk salt comes from the minerals naturally contained in whey and will soon bring more, completely new products with Valio ValSa milk salt to the market. Valio’s commitment to reducing salt use will result in the reduction of salt use by about 38,000kg annually, which is about six million teaspoons of salt,” Kaukovirta-Norja adds.
A major part of Valio’s R&D work at the moment focuses on reducing sugar. In 2015, Valio made 84 different snack products that met Valio’s commitment of reducing sugar content and by 2017 Valio had increased that number to 136. The target for 2020 is to have 168 low-sugar products.
“Valio’s expertise in product development and technology is unique on the global level and rests on more than a century of experience and know-how. For example, we are studying the potential for using new kinds of acidifiers for enhancing flavor as well as the utilization of natural enzymes. We will also examine how we can even more effectively use the sugar contained in berries and fruit and how modern technologies can be used to create great taste at our new snack plant in Riihimäki, Southern Finland,” says Kaukovirta-Norja.
By Elizabeth Green
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