Sustainability and corresponding ESG commitments have emerged as key business and growth strategy components for many multinational food and beverages over the past few years – many focus on environmental or labour issues, which are seen as lower-hanging fruit.
Kraft Heinz is opting to focus a large portion of its efforts on improving consumer nutrition, starting with the reformulation of products in several of its well-known brands.
“Nutrition is really a very key area for us to really focus on [here in APAC], primarily because looking at the society statistics it is a matter of importance when it comes to chronic diseases such as hypertension. China is a good example of this, as it is one of the regions with the highest growth in hypertensive rates over the past few years,” Kraft Heinz International Zone ESG Director David Shaw told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“There’s a real challenge to overcome here, and we know that diet and obesity are one of the primary factors we need to address as part of the food industry as well as the society.
“One example of work we have been doing here is with the Master brand in China, one of the best-known soy sauces in that market and obviously started off having a high sodium content - We have been working to innovate in this area, and in 2021, we launched the Master Low Salt Weijixian Soy Sauce.
“This product was developed to stand out by not only reducing salt by 28%, but by adding high quality dried scallops to elevate taste, creating a heathier and superior umami taste.”
Another market in which the company is focusing on improving nutrition in this manner is in Indonesia, where it has its major ASEAN base and production.
“In Indonesia, the ABC brand is very big locally and carries sauces like ketchups and so on, which has emerged as a big, big driver of our sugar and salt reduction targets due to the scope of the brand – as of 2021, we’ve successfully reduced just under 10 million mounds of sugar across our portfolio, primarily driven by this brand in this market,” Shaw added.
“Some of the innovations here were a 10% sugar reduction in mantaap sweet sauce, a 30% sugar reduction in the extra hot chilli formula, and an 8% reduction in the original chilli formula.
“This sort of innovation involves much more than just removing salt or sugar – doing this will definitely affect the taste experience, so formula adjustments need to be done just like using scallops to get that umami flavour.”
Basing ESG on nutrition
Kraft Heinz also lays claim to being the world’s first company to have a peer reviewed scientific publication assessing its food and nutritional guidelines to ensure credibility, and has committed to have 85% of its global sales coming from products compliant to global nutritional guidelines.
“The guidelines we are basing this on were built based on FDA and WHO standards, and of course in the future as we progress, we will think about improving further beyond 85% whilst remaining relevant for the tastes of the future,” Shaw added.
“Of note though is that we do see a reduced salt, reduced sodium, reduced fat diet as part of the future nutritional needs for the population - that that's really our prime focus in terms of keeping things sustainable.
“Some areas have have greater challenges, with Asia specifically having some of our biggest challenges in the portfolio based based on just the product composition, e.g. soy sauce is individually probably one of the biggest areas for salt content adjustment – but if we get that right it definitely feels like a really strong opportunity to satisfy both growth opportunities as well as consumer health.”