More balanced products for healthier eating
Due to the abundance of information and products, it is not always easy to find the proper healthy nutrition. To help you with that, we are working on the composition of our private label products in order to reduce the amount of salt, sugar and fat. It is a labour-intensive process, but it is starting to pay off.
How much sugar and fat is there in a portion of breakfast cereal? How much fat is there in those biscuits? We try to pay attention to what we eat, but is that really enough?
Ivyn: "We’ve noticed that everyone has questions. Our customers are picking up a lot about nutrition through the media and the Internet. And that creates anxiety. Is there sugar in ready meals? Why is there so much salt in that bread? How much fat is there in those delicious biscuits?"
"Consumers are far more critical and conscious of their diets. And so the demand for healthy products rises. That’s where we come in with our own brands. We look to see where we can remove or reduce salt, fats or sugars. Or where we can add something healthy, like fibre. However, we don’t just do this because of consumer demand. Our company also attaches a great deal of importance to health. We want to offer balanced nutrition."
What is really so bad about fats, sugar and salt?
Ivyn: "Fats can be divided into two categories: saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids are mainly found in animal products. The ‘better’ or unsaturated fatty acids are mainly found in vegetable products. Amongst other things, saturated fatty acids increase our cholesterol which can lead to cardiovascular disease. The problem with sugar is overconsumption: people eat too much sugar. And often in its fast form such as table sugar, honey, cane sugar, etc. You’d be better off choosing wholegrain products where the sugar is accompanied by fibre. The fibre slows the absorption of sugar into your body, leaving you more satisfied and needing to eat again less quickly. We also eat too much salt. With 6 grams of salt, a teaspoonful, you have your recommended daily amount."
And do we apply this to our own brands?
Ivyn: "We’ve been working on that for a long time. About two years ago, we started to improve our own brand products. So there are a lot of optimised products in our shops already. For example, we’ve reduced the sugar in our Choco Clams breakfast cereal by 14 grams per pack. That means that we process 28 tonnes less sugar per year in those cereals."
Do you test them yourselves for taste and quality?
Ivyn: "Of course. Each time a supplier changes something in a product, we get samples. We test them extensively in our kitchen. The quality managers assess them for quality, composition, etc. The nutritionists check the nutritional values. Then we taste the product. Is the taste comparable with the previous version? Only if we find that the quality and, especially, the taste are as good as before, do the products go on to the next phase: taste testing sessions. During these sessions, Colruyt Group employees and customers test the products and give us feedback. If a product scores well in the tasting sessions, we’ll put it on our shelves."
When will all these improved products be in the shops?
Ivyn: "There are already a lot of optimised products in the shop, such as breakfast cereals, a number of vegetarian products, pasta sauces, etc. By the end of this year, the most important product groups like ready meals and charcuterie will have been screened. We always screen the entire range, but that doesn't mean that we adjust each product effectively. Some simply cannot be improved further."
"We also compare our list of ingredients with those of similar products from our competitors. Does ours contain more sugar? Then we try to adjust that. We then look at national and international nutritional standards. We immediately kick out the biggest ‘missers’. From next year, this will be daily business. From then on, we will fully screen every one of our new own brand products before it goes on sale. So it’s not a one-off project, but something we will do continuously from now on. I think it’s a really great project!"
Which products we asses first depends on their popularity and how much room there is for improvement. We were able to reduce the salt content in our very popular ready meals for example. This category was therefore the first to be included in the programme which was launched in 2014. Six months later, almost 250 products had been included in the improvement process. Sometimes with spectacular results, such as ready meals, yoghurts/desserts and breakfast cereals.Read more
Name: Ivyn Degeest
Function: Nutritional expert at Colruyt Group
Job? • I’m responsible for nutritionally optimizing our own brand products and I collaborate in projects concerning balanced nutrition. Energy? • Getting the trust to start up new things really gives me so much energy. Most fun project? • Starting up ‘lekker leven’ (Tasteful living), a project concerning balanced nutrition for our customers. It really was a challenge.
With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.