The Broader Context
Globally there is an increase in the rules and guidelines aimed at managing the amounts of salt, sugar and calories in food. In the United Kingdom, for example, the government has proposed a calorie-cap on ready-made meals and those sold in quick service restaurants. While in Spain, the government is working with a significant number of food and beverage companies to actively reduce salt, sugar and fat levels in over 3,000 products by 2020. In the Netherlands, the Ministry of Health launched an initiative a number of years ago to collaborate with food manufacturers to voluntarily improve the composition of their food products, while annually monitoring and reporting progress on the nutritional profile of these products.
These steps are a direct response to what many health professionals around the world see as a worrying rise in the number of people who are overweight or obese, as well as the sharp rise in the number of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
For LW/M, customers are asking for more support in developing their menus. We believe that small steps make it possible to move to healthier menus without consumers even noticing the change. One example is significantly reducing the use of saturated fat over the past 10 years. A second example is replacing salt with alternative, healthier, taste enhancers. A third route is to reduce the total fat content in our products after final preparation, by working on products that are suitable for oven baking and air frying. Another is by developing potato products containing less fat by design, such as by using thicker cuts that absorb less oil during preparation.
Our 2020 objective: to improve the nutritional value of our parfried potato products and provide our direct customers and consumers with clear nutritional information.
2018 Results versus 2008 baseline
- 86.4% of all frozen potato products are fried in healthier oils, a 280% increase
- 5.6% oil content on average in our potato products (as produced), a 5% reduction
- 30% less salt in our LW premium fries and 10% less in our LW seasoned potato products
- Clear nutrition labelling on all product packaging, including foodservice (EU, MEA, Brazil)
‘We have a bold ambition to cut calories from our restaurants, reducing the average number of calories in a KFC serving by 20% by 2025. One of our pillars is healthier, tastier fries. Working with LW/M, we were able to create a rustic, thicker-cut fry that is not only tasty and healthier, but also better reflects what consumers want today.’
Innovation Director KFC UK
London, United Kingdom
’To the average consumer in Nigeria, Lamb Weston Poundo Potato is a unique product that carves out a new way of eating potatoes. In this region, the potato is typically served in one of three ways: fried, boiled or mashed. With the Poundo Potato product, Lamb Weston can now play in the staple swallow meal category which is consumed by all Nigerians, and Africans in general, regardless of socio-economic class, age, or gender. This swallow meal normally has a starch based, dough-like food served along side a soup bowl generally made with vegetables and protein. The swallow is cut and moulded into small dough balls and dipped in the soup, and swallowed. So far, feedback received has been very positive - consumers who have tried the product love it. We are currently actively creating points of distribution in open markets and supermarket outlets and will soon launch a marketing campaign to create awareness of this wonderful product. Once we have made real progress in establishing the Poundo Potato business in Lagos, we will expand into other major cities around the country.’
Managing Director LW/M Nigeria
Key Results 2017 – 2018
We believe that consumption in moderation is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle, which is why we continued to create enjoyable eating moments that fit into a balanced diet. By producing the tastiest products possible in their category, delivered in a functional packaging that provides clear and unambiguous nutrition information, we reflect the needs of our customers and the demands of consumers. The progress we made is outlined below.
We produce fries that are plain (potato only) and fries that are covered with a thin crispy coating and/or seasoning. During the reporting period, we began looking into creating a product that has a clear crispy coating, which does not contain E-numbers, and is allergen free. This project is ongoing, and we will continue to carry out research to create ingredients that look and taste great, are healthier, and more accurately meet our customers’ needs and expectations and the increasing demands of consumers.
Reducing salt levels
Although salt is a cheap and highly effective taste enhancer, our goal remains to reduce salt levels across our branded potato products that contain salt, which make up about half of our volume sold.
All Lamb Weston regular (plain) fries, Stealth® and Private Reserve® fries, as well as our retail product range, meet the 2017 UK FSA salt targets. For most salted product groups, we have achieved a 30% salt reduction since 2008.
While this is not yet the case for all LW-branded seasoned potato specialties sold in foodservice, during the period under review we managed to reduce salt levels in our own-brand seasoned fries by a further 10%. Half of our total volume sold does not contain any added salt, while we have reduced salt levels in the other half.
From the total volume frozen potato products sold, containing added salt, for 57% of this volume we managed to cut salt levels by 30% and for the remaining 43% we cut salt levels by 10%. We are committed to reducing salt levels across our product range, although the challenge remains how to maintain taste while achieving this.
Poundo Potato®: ambient potato product, launched in Africa
Potato consumption differs significantly across the world’s regions. In Africa, for example, many countries rely on other staple crops such as cassava and yams, both of which are root crops, providing local communities with their main daily carbohydrate and energy intake. One notable exception is Nigeria, which is the fourth largest producer of potatoes in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2017 we launched a healthy, pure potato product in Nigeria, which is suitable for storing at ambient temperatures, that would fit into the local Nigerian cuisine, and inspire local palates.
Called Poundo Potato®, the product is made from 100% ‘Irish’ potatoes, as European yellow flesh potatoes are typically named in Nigeria. Poundo Potato® is easy to prepare, easy to digest, and highly nutritious. It was designed as one of Nigeria’s traditional foods: the ‘swallow’. In Nigeria, swallow is usually a starch-based food, typically made from yam, and eaten alongside stews, locally called soups. During the meal, the swallow is portioned into small pieces by hand, dipped in the stew or soup, and swallowed. We will report on the progress of this new product in future sustainability reports.
Fewer calories, same great taste
Making products healthier is the goal of many of our customers. And it is a goal we share. During the reporting period, we took part in a suppliers’ council organised by one of our key international QSR customers. Their aim was to lower the fat content and salt levels in their products, with a specific focus on reducing saturated fat.
Our solution was to remove a little cheese from the company’s mozzarella sticks, replacing it with potato. The result? An 8% reduction in saturated fat levels, with no noticeable impact on taste or texture. We believe that working with our customers to gradually make menus healthier will enable us to affect long-term change.
Reducing saturated fat
Over 86.4% of all of our products are now fried in a healthier frying oil, mostly sunflower oil, with a maximum of 12% saturated fats and a maximum 1% trans-fat (oil based). While we are in the final process of transferring all our frozen parfried potato products, including our private label portfolio, from palm oil to sunflower oil, one of our international customers decided to continue using palm oil in their own restaurants. We have conversations with those customers still using palm oil about the benefits of switching to healthier frying oils. As indicated elsewhere in this report, the remaining 13.6% of the oil we source to parfry specific private labels is 100% segregated RSPO certified palm oil, which ensures this frying oil is grown, produced and sourced as sustainably as possible.
Over the last decade, we have removed over 10 million kilograms of saturated fat per year, compared to our 2008 baseline, from our total frozen parfried product portfolio, benefiting our customers and the end consumer.
Key Results 2017 – 2018
There are a number of projects mentioned above that we will continue to work on in the coming two-year period. However, those with a particular focus are:
- Decide how best to further lower the salt level in our own seasoned product portfolio
- Continue to closely monitor developments and action needed on calorie guidance in the UK, one of our key markets, to make sure we support our customers’ needs
- Look into rolling out gluten-free, low-salt recipes on some of our frozen products.
One of our key challenges is to produce and commercialise potato products that contain less salt and less fat, despite the limited demand from customers. We are carrying out various market researches amongst our customers and end-consumers to understand the relevance, and best implementation of, increasing the nutritional value of our LW branded products.
A second challenge is influencing the caloric intake of consumers. When customers fry and sell our potato products, we create a product that can be served and enjoyed quickly. However, this means adding calories by (re)frying during the final preparation, as water is evaporated and replaced by oil
Our challenge is working with customers to determine the ideal portion sizes, while helping them create a balanced menu. For example, can customers start combining fries with more salad?
We believe open communication and transparent education will help us develop solutions together with our customers.