RESEARCH | Staff Reporter, UK

Make tax relief for food firms conditional on developing healthy food, says Health Action Campaign

Health Action Campaign research showed that producing healthier food could be good for business as well as public health. The 1 billion GBP a year food and drinks companies claim in tax relief for Research & Development could be used to kick start progress.

In the report, named Healthy and Wealthy? The health and economic implications for the UK of mass producing food high in sugar, salt, saturated fat and refined carbohydrates, Healthy Action Campaign found that the food and drinks industry is claiming 1 billion GBP a year in corporation tax relief for Research and Development (R&D).

As new processes and ingredients (such as salt microspheres, fat micro aeration and flavour delivery particles) can significantly reduce levels of salt, fat and sugar while keeping the taste, the group said that developing healthier food is easier than ever.

According to the report, consumer research companies say people are becoming more health conscious and also better informed. For instance, Nielsen reported that more European consumers surveyed are now aiming to eat less sugar than are trying to eat less fat. Even AG Barr are now selling more bottled water than carbonated drinks. Greater consumer health consciousness is another reason why producing healthier food looks like being increasingly good for business, Healthy Action Campaign said.

Four studies by the Hudson Institute found that lower-calorie products drove virtually all of the growth at the HWCF (Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation) member companies studied. They accounted for 52.5 percent of sales and 99 percent of sales growth, the group said.

Healthy Action Campaign is also proposing that the UK develops a strategy to achieve global market leadership in the production, sale and marketing of healthier food. 

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