While not yet providing specifics how the goal was reached, the Healthy Weight Commitment FoundaWhile tion says America’s top food and beverage companies have already exceeded their goal of paring 1.5 trillion calories from the U.S. food market by 2015.
The May 30 announcement came three years after a 2010 pledge by the foundation’s members to the First Lady’s Partnership for a Healthier America to reduce calories by 1.5 trillion calories by 2015. The foundation’s 16 members — a roster that boasts food giants Campbell Soup Company, ConAgra Foods, General Mills, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods Inc. and others — are estimated to account for about 25% of the calories consumed in the U.S.
Retailers, restaurants, insurance companies, trade associations, consumer groups and others are also members in the foundation.
“Our industry has an important role to play in helping people lead healthy lives and our actions are having a positive impact,” Indra Nooyi, HWCF Chair, chairman and chief executive officer of PepsiCo said in a news release. “We see continued opportunities to give consumers the choices they’re looking for and to work collaboratively with the public and nonprofit sectors on initiatives that enable continued progress.”
It’s not clear if companies used more fruits and vegetables in their foods to help accomplish the calorie reduction.
Tracy Fox, president of Washington, D.C.-based Food, Nutrition & Policy Consultants, attended the foundation’s May 30 briefing in Washington, D.C., about the calorie reduction. She says more details about how food and beverage companies reduced calories should be released this fall when a report details changes in consumption by food groups.
Fox says any progress by food companies in reducing their calorie footprint is positive, but it is too early to tell if food companies could be doing more to combat obesity.
In a preliminary progress report on the accomplishment, William MacLeod, a former director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission, says there’s no doubt member companies accomplished the 1.5 trillion calories cutback ahead of schedule. The report says low-calorie products drove 82% of sales growth for members of the foundation.
MacLeod says taking into account the growth of the population from 2007-12, the reduction of calories in foods sold by foundation companies will substantially exceed 35 calories per person per day. All participating companies introduced lower-calorie products over the period, with product reformulations leading the trend.
MacLeod says in the preliminary report that a 50-calorie reduction per person per day is estimated to be about half the amount necessary to arrest the rise of obesity in the entire U.S. population.
Food companies may have work to do in the realm of food marketing.
Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health for the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C., says the first meetings related to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines will be held June 13-14.
The work and eventual recommendations of that group will be critically important to all food companies.