Colruyt Group’s approach to balanced nutrition
Balanced nutrition and why it’s so important
Healthy eating: what does that actually mean? Your body needs fats, carbohydrates, protein and salt. These provide – among other things – the energy you need for your daily activities and ensure that your body works as well as it can. Vitamins and minerals in turn ensure that all the processes in your body run smoothly. There is not one single super food that contains all these necessary nutrients. Too much is not necessarily good either. Healthy eating is all about balance and variation.
What are we currently doing?
As a retailer, we are ideally placed to support our customers in their food choices, purchases, preparation and consumption. We are contributing in various ways to balanced food choices. First and foremost, we make our range of private label products as balanced as possible by improving their nutritional value. In addition, we provide our customers with information, tools and inspiration making it easier for them to make conscious food choices.
Improving the nutritional composition of our private label products
Together with our suppliers and our own production departments, we take a good look at the ingredients of our private label products and improve the recipe where necessary. This is a continuous process, for more than 3,500 products. Our nutritionists set the ingredient standards for each product individually, taking into account the reference values set by the official – national and international - organisations, such as the Belgian Superior Heath Council and the Dutch National Agreement to Improve Product Composition. We also compare our product with similar products from other retailers.
Meanwhile, all the products of our private label brands Boni Selection and Everyday have already gone through this improvement process several times and we have been able to make quite a few improvements. In the course of the previous financial year, we removed a total of 244 tonnes of sugar from our private label foods, as well as 467 tonnes of fats, 170 tonnes of saturated fatty acids and 236 tonnes of salt. We managed to add 543 tonnes of fibre. And we improved the Nutri-Score of 29 products.Read more
How do we optimise the nutritional ingredients?
- We choose to reduce the amount of sugar in our products and do not automatically use sweeteners. If we do choose to use sweeteners, this is always clearly stated on the front of the packaging.
- Even though fats are an important source of energy, it is best to avoid saturated fatty acids. That's why we are replacing, where possible, fats with a high saturated fatty acid content (such as palm oil or coconut oil) with a different vegetable oil with a better fatty acid composition.
- Because most people already eat too much salt, we aim for a lower salt content in our products. We do not replace the salt with flavour enhancers. Instead, we add spices and aromatics.
- Where possible, we add more fibre, for instance, by increasing the amount of vegetables in our ready meals.
Where our kids are concerned, less is more
The kids range of Boni Selection only has products that fit in with a balanced diet for children. We have changed the ingredients of about ten products and improved their nutritional values. Any products we were unable to improve (or only minimally), have been removed from the range.
It’s all about the taste
Well-balanced products are important, but of course we also want our products to remain tasty. That is why we invest EUR 2.5 million every year in taste and use tests for our private label brands. All new or improved products are subjected to the critical scrutiny of ... you, the customer. Those who take part in our blind comparison tests, are asked to compare our private label product with similar products from other retailers. If the tests show that a certain product could be improved, then our quality control department, buyers and suppliers jump into action. If the product scores well in the taste tests, it will appear on our shelves. The tests themselves are certified by independent organisation Quality Control.
Be aware of what you buy
Awareness of the food you eat only comes with awareness of what you are buying. That is why we want to give our customers clear information about the products in our stores, using easy-to-read packaging and labels. Labels such as ‘vegetarian’, ‘vegan’, ‘gluten free’ and the Nutri-Score on the front of the packaging mean that the nutritional information is immediately visible to customers. Since September 2018, we have systematically added the Nutri-Score to 85 % of the product packaging of Boni Selection as well as a large number of products of the Spar brand. The Nutri-Score of all the food products we sell can be found in the SmartWithFood app.
However, the packaging itself does not have a lot of room for detailed explanations. That is why we offer as much additional information as possible through our digital channels such as the SmartWithFood app, the MyColruyt app and the websites of Colruyt Lowest Prices and Collect&Go. In the future, this is also where we will explain why a product contains a certain ingredient or E-number and the advantages and disadvantages.
Be inspired with delicious, balanced recipes
We want to encourage our customers to cook smart with the products they have bought. That is why we go to great lengths to ensure that our suggested recipes focus on providing a balanced diet. In our leaflets, cookery books and online. For instance, these are the guidelines for the Colruyt cooking team:
- Plenty of vegetables: cooked meals contain at least 200 gr of vegetables.
- Meat, fish and vegetarian: in our weekly menus, we make sure there is a balance between different types of meat (limiting fatty meats), fish, eggs and vegetarian options.
- Different types of carbohydrates: our recipes include potatoes, rice, couscous, grains, bread, etc. We recommend wholemeal products as much as possible.
- Low in fat: where possible, we replace full-fat milk, cheese and cream with low-fat options. We are also very careful with the use of oil, butter and margarine.
- Unprocessed ingredients: we often use unprocessed ingredients instead of processed products.
And with our social project ‘Dinner is served in 1-2-3 euros’ we also make healthy eating accessible to more than 4,500 families who are struggling financially, across 171 communities.
What other plans do we have in store for the future?
Of course we will continue our project to improve our private label products. But we will endeavour to do more. We want to create solutions that can be used throughout the whole of society. In collaboration with the FPS Public Health, FEVIA (Federation for the Belgian food industry) and COMEOS (Belgian Federation for Commerce and Services) we are contributing to the Convention for a Balanced Diet. We make joint agreements with other retailers and producers to further improve the nutritional composition of food products. One of the objectives of the convention is to combat obesity.
We also invest in the EIT (European Institute for Innovation & Technology). This is an autonomous body of the European Union that promotes research and entrepreneurship by bringing together top experts to find solutions for pressing global challenges, such as balanced nutrition.
Balanced nutrition - does this mean the same for you as for your parents, neighbours or colleagues? Probably not. We strongly believe in the potential of personalised nutrition. Tailored to each person's unique preferences, needs, medical background, family situation, stage of life and the physical and emotional state in which you find yourself. With SmartWithFood, we have been actively working on the possibilities of personalised nutrition, through the digitalisation of nutrition data and food preferences.
Personalised nutrition can reduce the risk of illness and even promote recovery. Our ultimate goal is to guide our consumers towards better health through personalised nutritional advice based on scientific data. That is why we actively participate in the Flemish research project FLORA, an initiative of SmartWithFood, in collaboration with KU Leuven and VIB (Flemish Institute for Biotechnology). This project investigates whether personalised digital nutritional advice can have a positive effect on health and intestinal flora.
Through Food4Health, a project by EIT Food and EIT Health, we try to steer the population towards a more balanced and healthier diet. Food4Health focuses on developing an online food diary and coaching. This tool gives you personalised tips and information, in real time, which you can use to make better food choices.
With SmartWithFood we are also a member of the international consortium 'Personalised Nutrition and Health'. Through the multidisciplinary collaboration between food and technology companies, we hope to be able to make even more significant progress towards personalised nutrition for our customers.