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Childhood obesity Collaboration for Healthier Lives

Launch of reduced-sugar versions of brand favourites encourages healthier purchasing

Our case study with Premier Foods, as part of our CHL progress update.

What?

Manufacturer Premier Foods is investing in innovative research and development (R&D) to create a variety of ‘better-for-you’ products. By capitalising on the brand power and influence of trusted family favourites like Mr Kipling, the company is nudging consumers towards healthier choices without compromising on taste and price.  

How?

In recent years Premier Foods has shifted focus from stealth reformulation, where consumers barely notice changes to product ingredients, to exploring how to develop significantly healthier and more nutritious alternatives to sit on shelves alongside products found in weekly shopping baskets.  

Working closely together, the company’s R&D and Nutrition teams look at which nutrients can be removed (fat, salt, sugar) and what can be added (fruit, fibre and protein ingredients) to create ‘better-for-you’ options with measurable, regulated nutrient benefits. For example, a 30% or more reduction in sugar, fat or calories, or a 25% or more reduction in salt/sodium.   

Key learnings

In 2018, Premier Foods launched a brand-new Mr Kipling fruit slices range – Smashing Strawberry, Awesome Apple and Rockin’ Raspberry – lower in calories than existing products and including real fruit. Despite initial positive feedback from consumer research and testing, the fruit slices failed to reach retailer sales expectations and the range was delisted. Lessons learnt from this trial have informed subsequent ‘better-for-you’ product development and promotion.   

Recognising the importance of familiarity of look and feel in encouraging consumers to choose healthier alternatives, Premier Foods shifted approach, launching a version of its bestselling Mr Kipling’s Angel Slices with 30% less sugar and up to 10 times the amount of fibre found in the standard range. This new product’s popularity with consumers led to the extension of the range to include 30% reduced-sugar versions of the brand’s chocolate and lemon slices. Each cake contains 100 calories or less, in line with Public Health England’s recommendation.   

The promotional strategy adopted for these products also responded to insights from the earlier trial. The new products have been promoted, both in store and online, alongside the core Mr Kipling range, offering informed choice to shoppers by showcasing the healthier alternative next to a product they already know and love.   

Data and results

Between April 2021 and April 2022, 1.5 million UK consumers purchased a healthier version of Mr Kipling cakes. Loyalty card data confirms 41% of sales come directly from shoppers switching from less healthy, comparable products. Measurement of the repeat purchase rate is also promising. At 23%, it’s in line with the rest of the ambient cake category suggesting consumers who have tried a reduced sugar slice are likely to purchase the healthier version again.  

What’s next?

More investment and innovation to drive development of more healthy products, including sustainable plant-based options via new brand Plantastic and healthier versions of trusted favourites like Loyd Grossman reduced Fat Lasagne Sauces and reduced salt Paxo stuffing.  

Following the successful launch of Mr Kipling reduced sugar slices, the brand has taken the learnings from this product range and are in the process of going further and replacing them with a new range of products which meet the government HFSS guidelines. The new range ‘Mr Kipling Deliciously Good’ offers better for you versions of the brands best-selling slices and pies and is rolling out to stores now.  The name was chosen to highlight the fact that healthier products don’t have to mean a compromise on taste and price points for the original and ‘better-for-you’ products are comparable. 

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