Blog: Dean BestHealthy Foods European Summit - quote, unquote

Dean Best | 23 October 2007

Top food industry executives from the UK, Europe and North America have gathered in London today (23 October) to discuss the trends in what, for many consumers, is the key factor in the purchasing decisions right now – health and wellbeing. just-food is at the event to hear representatives from industry, government, academia and consumer associations have debated the hot topics in the health and wellbeing field – the impact of the EU’s health claims legislation and product labelling being two such issues.

Here is a round-up of the key quotes from this morning’s session –

“Will nutrient profiling in the EU health claims legislation lead to a change in dietary habits? We are really doubtful about that” - Klaske de Jonge, corporate communications director, Mars Europe

“I do question a lot that the jewel in the European crown on fighting obesity has to be nutrient profiling.” Guy Valkenborg, director, European Advisory Services

“The EU regulation not only applies to messages on-pack but also has a very, very strong impact on commercial communication – that’s one area in which the legislation is very unclear.” - Andrea Martinez-Inchausti, assistant director, food policy, British Retail Consortium/EuroCommerce

“Pro- and pre-biotics have become part of the lexicon, part of the vernacular. I’m not exactly sure consumers know exactly what they are but I’m not sure that matters.” - Dr David Hughes, Emeritus Professor of Food Marketing, Imperial College London

“It’s appalling how little consumers know about nutrition. If you ask a consumer how many calories that you can eat in the day, a lot of people don’t know the answer.” - Klaske de Jonge

“Now, consumers are looking at increasing the health and wellbeing of the world. What is the impact of the production of foodstuffs on the environment? Is it sustainable? Sometimes we act as consumers, sometimes we act as citizens.” – Dr. Hughes

“The consumer is choosing to use labelling and buy healthier products.” – Claire Boville, head of promotions, nutrition labelling and dietetic foods, nutrition division, UK Food Standards Agency

“Simple labelling is one way that people can simplify their choices. We are more removed from production than we used to be and it is more difficult to tell exactly what we are eating and how much sugar and salt is in food products.” Sue Davies, chief policy adviser, Which?

“Consumers are not necessarily switching out of unhealthy categories but are thinking more about the frequency in which they consume them.” Claire Boville

“We know when we buy chocolate what we’re getting. What we’re concerned about is complex, processed food that we eat regularly or in large amounts.” – Claire Boville

“Because the issue [of obesity] is so multi-factorial, it is often used as an excuse not to tackle the problem or a half-hearted approach. In terms of labelling, we need to look at what really does work for the consumer. We shouldn’t be saying that doing something is better than doing nothing.” Sue Davies

“GDA front-of-pack labelling is driving product reformulation in the industry. No-one wants to be on-shelf with higher calories than a rival product.” Julian Hunt, director of communications, Food & Drink Federation

“Labelling makes healthy consumption top-of-mind. It also challenges the prejudices and misconceptions we have about food, which is a good thing. In this country, we don’t have a particularly healthy attitude towards food.” – Claire Boville


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