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Campden BRI predicts ‘weighty issues’ for food and drink industry in 2013

02 January 2013

2013 will be a landmark year for the food and drink industry as it faces some ‘weighty issues’ that need to be addressed in the coming 12 months, according to leading food and drink research organisation, Campden BRI.

The organisation which advises industry - including businesses, government departments and funding bodies - on food and drink issues, predicts that products aimed at consumer health, particularly in relation to weight management and calorie control will be one of the dominant trends driving the sector in 2013 and beyond. The other key issue will be sustainability, and in particular, controlling water usage and water conservation.

Steven Walker, the Director General of Campden BRI, said: “Health and well-being has been a significant driver in recent years but this will gain momentum in 2013 as the focus shifts to calorie control and weight management.

“Just over a quarter of adults (26% of men and women aged 16 or over) were classified as obese in 2010[i] and over 50% of adults are predicted to become obese by 2050[ii] with average intakes of saturated fat in the UK currently exceeding public health recommendations by around 20%[iii].

“It is, however, a complex issue with no universal remedy; but in the next 12 to 18 months, we will see increased pressure on food manufacturers to address the problem. While portion control has been suggested as a potential solution, it’s unlikely to be an acceptable solution for all consumers. Instead, there will be increased emphasis on product reformulation to reduce calories by cutting saturated fat and sugar levels.

“Reformulating existing products without affecting consumer perceptions of quality, taste and appearance is no mean feat, but the food industry is certainly rising to the challenge and 2013 will see more of the nation’s favourite brands undergoing reformulation. Indeed, many food manufacturers and retailers have already signed up to the Department of Health’s ‘calorie reduction pledge’[iv]- testament to their commitment to improve consumer health.”

The other dominant trend Campden BRI predicts in 2013 is the adoption of water efficiency best practice as the food and drink industry works to reduce its environmental impact.

Steven Walker continued: “The food and drink industry is by necessity a significant user of water – from primary production to preparation, processing and cleaning. With the world’s water resources increasingly under stress, the issue of water conservation is more important than ever.

“Measures such as rainwater harvesting, grey water recycling, waste water treatments, advanced drip irrigation systems for crops and new, emerging technologies to reduce water usage will all become more prevalent over the course of the next few years.

“Food and drink businesses are already taking significant strides to meet the voluntary whole industry target of a 20 per cent reduction in water use by 2020[v] and this progress is set to continue as more firms opt to reduce their water footprint.”

Campden BRI members recently voted for nine new research projects for 2013 funded from a total available pot of £2M, to complement about 40 other projects in their ongoing research programme. Reflecting how important the issues of calorie control and water efficiency will be in 2013, one study will investigate sweeteners and fat replacers for reducing the calorie content of food and beverages and another will look into the supply of water from non-potable sources and its uses and treatments.

Steven Walker concluded: “As a major service provider to the food and drink sector, Campden BRI works hard to ensure that all its activities are aligned and targeted to the scientific and technical needs of the food, drink and allied companies, organisations and bodies it serves.

“The food and drink industry faces a myriad of challenges - in addition to the core issue of food safety and hygiene which continues to be of utmost importance and at the top of everyone’s priorities.

“We look forward to the challenges and opportunities that 2013 and beyond will bring and will continue to help businesses and organisations meet the ever-changing needs of the food and drink industry.”

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