Snack giant Nestle is axing 59 million teaspoons of sugar this year from its popular breakfast cereals including Golden Nuggets and Frosted Shreddies.
Over the last 10 years, the company has quietly taken out 516 million teaspoons of sugar across a swathe of brands and fans have not noticed.
GharryEccles, vice president for Cereal Partners UK (CPUK, which makes the Nestle brands, said the “salami slice” approach to gradually removing small amounts of sugar meant families’ tastes adjusted to minor changes without a shock to the system.
And the latest reduction which also includes taking three million teaspoons of salt out of products by the end of this year, has taken almost all of Nestle cereals out of the red zone for high sugar and salt and into green or amber.
It means by the end of 2021 there will be up to 16% less sugar and 50% less salt across Coco Shreddies, Frosted Shreddies, Honey Cheerios, Nesquik, Cookie Crisp and Golden Nuggets.
Mr Eccles said: “It’s about positive nutrition and making informed changes. We have maintained the taste with the salami slice approach and now 11 of our 12 best sellers are off the red list.”
The sugar has been replaced with whole grain to add texture but Nesquik cereal alone has had nine recipe changes to find the perfect combination.
Julie Foster, nutrition regulatory and scientific affairs manager for CPUK said: “We’ve found little and often to be the most successful method of product renovation – the salami slice approach.
“It means we’ve been able to increase whole grain content in parallel to our sugar reduction work to create a ‘sugar v whole grain’ seesaw pattern across many of our brands.
“For example, back in 2003, Golden Nuggets contained no whole grain at all, and now it’s the number one ingredient.
“But when you add whole grain you add more fibre and when we first tried it with Cheerios they were smaller and harder but we have got much better at it. You can’t just take out sugar and not replace it with anything.”
The company first started to reduce sugar and salt in its breakfast staples in 2003 and Mr Eccles said: “Our priority has been to maintain the same great taste consumers know and love, while simultaneously providing options that are convenient, affordable and nutritious.
“I’m pleased with the strides we have made as a business. There’s no doubt this is a significant milestone for us, and we are committed to playing our part in encouraging healthier lifestyles in the UK.”
As part of its sugar and salt reduction campaign, Nestle is launching Vanilla O’s under the Cheerios label which is made with 86% whole grain and hasless than 5% sugar.
It hits Sainsbury’s shelves in the next two weeks and will cost £2.69 for a 360g box.
Around 48 million Brits sit down to a bowl of cereal ever morning and experts say it costs an average 22p for a portion with milk.