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Watch – Nestle’s Singapore R&D MD on sugar, salt reduction and fortification

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Consumer and government demands for healthier products are driving Nestlé’s R&D efforts in Singapore, with one recent beverage reformulation project slashing sugar by 50% and adding 30% more protein.

Speaking to us in Singapore, Sze Tan, the country’s R&D MD, said the demands on her team were now very much focused on health and wellness.

“If you look back 100 years ago the challenge for R&D was food supply. Then it became food safety, then creating products for sharing and enjoyment. Now we are in the digital era and need to create healthy products that still taste great.”

In our video Tan discusses the latest sugar and salt reduction projects the company has been involved in, as well as its fortification efforts.

The R&D Centre in Singapore supports the global and regional development of MILO, NESCAFÉ and Maggi products.

One major project recently undertaken was to reduce the level of sugar in MILO, which is sold in more than 80 countries with 70 different recipes.

This led to the launch in July of MILO Gao Siew Dai, which features a stronger MILO taste, 50% less table sugar and 30% more protein.

This followed the Singapore government’s much-publicised ‘war on diabetes’, waged on the back of alarming increases in cases of the condition.

It strongly urged beverage firms to slash the amount of sugar in their products to help boost public health.

Micronutrients boost for kids

The key challenge of the reformulation project was to balance the taste with the health concerns. Other than reducing sugar, Nestlé​ added in more cocoa and milk to ensure the beverage’s taste was not compromised. 

Another innovation to come out of Singapore was MILO Activ-Go. This contains PROTOMALT, a unique source of micronutrients which optimises energy release, muscle function and bone maintenance for children

In the video Tan also discusses some recent salt reduction projects undertaken on popular noodle brand Maggi, which has also been involved in Nestlé​’s fortification drive.

She said in 2016, almost 103 billion individual servings of Nestlé soups, condiments, seasonings and noodles were fortified, of which 59 billion were fortified with iron.

Tan said Nestle’s reformulation commitments had been aligned with the UN Sustainable Development goals.

By 2020, the firm has pledged to further reduce the sodium it adds to products by 10% and sugar by a further 5%.

Last year it hit its 10% sodium reduction target to 2016, but missed its sugar objective. This was also 10% but the firm recorded 8.5%.

In the video, Tan also discusses how consumer demands for sustainability and transparency are driving innovation across products and packaging, and discusses how Nestlé​ is aiming to meet the needs of millennials.

Finally, she gives us her top tips on the next wave of megatrends that are likely to shape R&D activity at the company.

Take a look at the film for more.

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