Tweak food for better health–poll


AT least 7 out of 10 Filipinos believe that food companies must reformulate their product offerings into healthier ones as they are now more aware of the importance of a healthy and balanced diet amid the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an industry report.

A report from the Food Industry Asia (FIA) revealed that about three-quarters of Filipino consumers have shown interest towards the addition or removal of ingredients and the use of alternatives to make a product healthier.

The report, released on Monday, pointed out that the majority of Filipino consumers believe that food companies must voluntarily change their product formulations to help consumers choose and stick to healthier choices.

“Although a majority of Filipinos [81 percent] believe that following a healthy, balanced diet is their own responsibility, they also want more support from the industry,” the report titled, “Healthier Product Reformulation in the Philippines,” said.

As part of this support, “they want more visibility of reformulated food and beverage products, increased communications that outline the benefits of these products, and clearer nutrition labels,” the report added.

The FIA said the report was meant to better understand behavioral trends and perceptions of solutions geared toward delivering improved nutrition such as reformulation and product labeling.

“Health consciousness among Filipino consumers is increasing, with 56 percent of those surveyed claiming that they mostly maintain a healthy diet,” the FIA said.

“While most consumers [99 percent] have shown some interest in adopting healthier eating habits, eating more fruits and vegetables [41 percent] and reducing the intake of salt [34 percent], sugar [32 percent], and fat [32 percent] have been identified as key areas to improve their diets,” the FIA added.

FIA Public Affairs Manager Sabeera Ali said the findings showed a high level of acceptance by Filipino consumers of reformulation of products in the Philippines. Ali added that the findings “highlight the opportunity for the industry to create a healthier food environment for consumers, which is where the majority of the industry has started to shift towards.”

She added: “Against a backdrop of growing concerns over obesity, non-communicable diseases like diabetes, and Covid-19, product reformulation is already well under way in the Philippines to encourage healthier food choices and behaviors. Our findings show that 70 percent of companies surveyed have embarked on reformulation to improve the nutritional value of their products.”

As consumers become more health conscious, she stressed, “there is now a great opportunity and incentive for the industry to invest in reformulation and drive consumer choice by providing healthier food products.”

Food companies are keen on reformulating their products, but seek greater fiscal incentives from the government to support their research and development activities, according to the report.

“This highlights the need for multi-stakeholder collaborations to drive more R&D activities for new product development and reformulation,” Elizabeth M. de Leon-Lim, Chairman and President of the Philippine Chamber of Food Manufacturers Inc. (PCFMI), said.

“Multi-stakeholder collaborations are crucial in accelerating the industry’s current efforts when it comes to healthier product development and reformulation. They provide the opportunity for food and beverage businesses to work together and share technical know-hows as well as success stories to encourage further R&D,” de Leon-Lim added.

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