Promoting Healthy lifestyle
|Promoting healthy lifestylesש|
|• Making food healthier|
• Adding health to food and drink
• Raising healthy lifestyle awareness
• Investing in nutritional research
|• Improve consumer wellbeing through increased sales of products with a healthy lifestyle claim by 15% by 2020. |
• Engage consumers in healthy lifestyle activities through each Strauss Group company, reaching 10 million consumers by 2020.
• Engage in a global strategic social partnership with a multi-year commitment to improve healthy lifestyle practices.
|• Local communities|
• Healthy and affordable food
• Customer health and safety
• Indirect economic impacts
Promoting healthy lifestyles is a priority sustainability issue for Strauss Group because it is extremely important to our consumers. A healthy lifestyle can be defined in many different ways, and mean different things to different people. For some, the focus is on access to nutritious food, especially for those who face challenges in food availability and affordability. For others, a healthy lifestyle may mean avoiding consumption of certain types of food such as those high in fat, gluten, sugar or salt. Many define a healthy lifestyle as one that includes weight control and physical exercise, while for others, relaxation and stress management are important. Others find it important to avoid different forms of chemicals, alcohol and tobacco. For some, a healthy lifestyle includes all of the above. Whatever the prime focus of anyone’s definition of healthy lifestyle, the prime contribution we can make as a food and beverage company is to provide a broad range of products for our consumers that help improve their lives.
Strategy to action
Making food healthier
Consumers are more aware than ever before of the nutritional values of different food products, and of the potentially negative consequences of consuming too many calories. As an industry, food manufacturers have been finding ways to reduce levels of high-calorie ingredients to make food that has greater nutritional benefit. At Strauss, we have also been working tirelessly to ensure our brands provide improved nutritional benefit for our consumers and support the adoption of healthy lifestyles.
Unfortunately, these less nutritious food ingredients are often the ones that provide consumers with the taste they love, so reformulation is no easy task. However, for the past several years, at Strauss Israel, we have been progressing a clearly defined multi-year plan to reformulate our products to reduce salt, fat and sugar, while retaining texture, taste and all other healthy parameters of our products.
A healthy lifestyle includes calorie management and careful management of sugar intake. As food manufacturers, we have supported a reduction in sugar consumption and have been systematically reducing added sugar content in our products. For example, we have reduced the sugar content in our Actimel product by making a change to the production process without requiring additional ingredients to be added or significantly altering the product taste. In all of our fruit yogurts and yogurt beverages, we have reformulated to reduce up to 20-25 percent added sugar content. Similarly, we reduced sugar levels in our chocolate milk and our chocolate bars under the Elite brand.
During the past three years, we have reduced the salt content of our Tapuchips snack by 7 percent, saving almost 3,000 kg of salt in production of this one brand, as part of our overall multi-year plan to reduce salt content across a range of products. Alongside our own salt-reduction program, we participate in a governmental initiative, promoted by the Israeli Ministry of Health, to reducing daily sodium intake of the Israeli population by 3 grams, from 9 grams
to 6 grams per day per person, by 2020, in order to reduce health risks associated with excessive salt intake. The program involves Israel’s leading dairy product manufacturers, and after consultation with manufacturers, the first products with focused government-led targets for salt reduction were defined as cottage cheese and soft white cheese.
We have been systematically reducing added fat content in our products. For example, in early 2014 we created a breakthrough in our leading hummus salad brand. Hummus is one of Strauss’s highest selling products, and is a significant element of the staple Middle Eastern diet in Israel. Our new Country Hummus product contains no added oil, retaining only fat content that is naturally present in the raw sesame seed paste (tahini), a key ingredient in hummus salad. Therefore, the fat content of Country Hummus is 9.5 grams of fat per 100 grams of product, which is significantly lower than the fat content of similar hummus products. At the same time, we were able to increase the level of protein in the product by 13 percent. As Israel consumes in total over 30,000 tons of hummus salad per year, and much of this is consumed by young children, our lower fat content higher-protein hummus salad can make a significant contribution to improving healthy lifestyles and the quality of life for millions.
Food choices for a healthy lifestyle
In addition to making existing food products healthier, we try to create more and better food choices for different types of consumers. This includes products that offer portion control for adults who wish to control their calorie intake, healthy vegetable snacks attractive to kids, fresh salad options and products with nutritional benefits under our Energy brand.
Adults looking for a sweet chocolate treat now have the option of a new chocolate bar with added benefits. Our 92 calorie chocolate bar, a lower-calorie chocolate bar that we developed in collaboration with a leading research university, The Technion, and a leading science institute, the Weizmann Institute, is an example of this. The chocolate is rich in nutritional fibers and calcium, with a low glycemic index value of 20 (versus 50 in regular chocolate), which means the carbohydrates in the chocolate break down more slowly, releasing glucose more gradually into the bloodstream. Our 92 chocolate bar comes in controlled portions of 25 grams.
Adults and kids looking for fresh snacks and menu options can continue to enjoy our expanded fresh salads range. For example, following the success of our carrot snack packs for adults last year, we introduced a carrot snack pack for kids. The packaging and marketing of the product include Disney characters to help children associate healthy food choices with fun. For adults, we created innovative fresh salad options such as beetroot salad, and zucchini and onion salads. These are made with locally grown produce and provide new healthy tastes for healthy lifestyle options.
Other innovations in 2013 include a single-portion ready-meal dairy ravioli, which is ready in one minute, a wide variety of soft white cheese spreads with different fresh flavors, and more 100-calorie products for strict calorie control options. Overall, in 2013, we offered more than 30 new product or product variants to improve the quality of life for consumers in Israel.
Adding nutritional benefits to food and drink
The pursuit of a healthy lifestyle may also mean, for some, the inclusion of food choices which make a positive contribution to health, offering more than standard food choices. Fortified and functional food choices contain ingredients that may help reduce risk for certain health conditions. These products are generally based on ingredients that occur naturally or can be added during the manufacturing process. The key areas in which we add nutritional benefits to food and drink include fortifying our dairy products with vitamins and minerals, providing probiotic and phytosterol-based functional food options, and introducing functional innovations in the beverage category to provide more nutritional benefits in all sorts of different ways.
Gum and more: In 2013, we introduced a new chewing gum coated with xylitol under our Bazooka and Must brands. Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that helps prevent cavities while being equal in sweetness taste to sugar. Our regular chewing gum pellets have been coated with xylitol for the past two years. This year, we have expanded this for the benefit of children for whom Bazooka is a popular option and also we developed a chewing gum with 100 percent xylitol that retains freshness for 45 minutes.
Coffee and more: In 2013, Strauss Coffee launched two new and innovative coffee products that offer healthy lifestyle solutions for consumers that seek added value from their instant coffee. The first is a unique instant coffee drink that includes nutritional fiber to aid a feeling of satiety for those interested in controlling calorie intake, while the other is a Turkish coffee beverage that is enriched with polyphenols that support health benefits.
Balance Coffee: In 2013, we launched a revolutionary new coffee beverage leveraging the strong coffee-drinking habit in Israel. Our new coffee under our Elite brand is called Balance, and is a rich Brazilian coffee containing corn and chicory fiber and milk-based proteins. One cup of Balance contains up to 23 percent of the recommended daily fiber consumption.
In Israel, people drink an average of 3.5 cups of coffee a day. Balance is designed for consumers that want to feel satiated at the most challenging hours of the day between meals or at snack times. Drinking one cup of Balance promotes a sense of satiety for up to three hours. Weight Watchers Israel has tested Balance and recommends it to members as part of a controlled diet.
Turkish coffee: In 2013, we launched, under our Elite Turkish coffee brand, a coffee beverage that contains 30 percent more polyphenols compared to regular Elite Turkish coffee. Polyphenols are a form of antioxidants that are found in coffee, and understood to possess a variety of potential health benefits. In recent years, studies confirm there are several health benefits to moderate coffee consumption and in particular Turkish coffee. In Israel, 40 percent of adults drink Turkish coffee at least once a week.
Coffee and sports: In order to help increase consumers’ understanding of the wellbeing benefits of coffee, especially when consumed as part of a healthy lifestyle that includes physical education, we hosted an educational coffee campaign designed to raise awareness that drinking Turkish coffee before sporting activities can improve sporting achievements. We provided more than 55,000 cups of free coffee, and more than 80,000 one-cup sachets throughout the year, in collaboration with dieticians and sporting experts. In a representative sample of 500 people that tested their views about coffee benefits, awareness increased to 26 percent in March 2014 from just 11 percent in July 2012.
Investing in nutritional research
We maintain the Strauss Institute to support our mission of improving people’s lives by advancing nutritional research, holding scientific conferences for nutrition professionals, and promoting healthy lifestyles in the community. The Strauss Institute continues activities conducted by the Danone Institute in Israel for the past 14 years, and collaborates with Danone Institutes around the world. Strauss Institute activities are directed by a scientific council of five leading academics and researchers in the field of nutrition in Israel.
In 2013, we launched a new Strauss Institute website in Israel (strauss-institute.com). The site includes information for consumers and healthcare professionals to support awareness of healthy and balanced diets. During 2013, the site was piloted among 1,200 health professionals who revisit the site regularly at a rate of more than 700 entries per month.
In 2013, Strauss Institute awarded research grants for students interested in examining the link between nutrition choices, food ingredients and health. Four grants totaling more than $50,000 went to three doctoral students and one masters student from different universities. We plan to make available up to $60,000 annually in such research grants.
Sabra’s Center of Excellence: In 2013, Sabra officially launched a “Center of Excellence”, in Virginia, U.S., alongside Sabra’s manufacturing plant. The Center, the first of its kind in the dips and spreads industry, will act as a point of innovation for advancing research capabilities and help improve our products in all aspects of raw material sourcing, manufacturing, packaging and distribution.
The Center works in collaboration with universities and agricultural research centers, and houses experts in culinary arts, food technology and nutrition. The plan is to conduct groundbreaking research on chickpeas, fruits and vegetables. This activity is aimed at supporting continuous innovation while focusing on product diversity, high nutritional values, quality and taste. The Center features a state of the art culinary center, research laboratory, ideation space, a pilot plant and hands-on research modules.
In addition, in the U.S., the growth of the hummus market has made another positive impact. Farmers in Virginia State have turned to hummus in the face of declining tobacco demand, their primary market up until recently. Sabra, in collaboration with Virginia State University, advances research that will support Virginian farmers become more efficient and maintain their livelihoods as they convert to hummus production.
Raising healthy lifestyle awareness
A key opportunity to help consumers take a proactive approach to healthy lifestyles is to ensure they are aware of basic nutritional guidelines, the impact of different nutritional elements in their diet and have the tools to adopt eating habits that make sense for them. As a large food and beverage group that invests considerably in research, we have many resources at our disposal that can help the professional community of dieticians and nutritionists, and ultimately, those who consume our products. We share our professional knowledge with dieticians and nutrition professionals through workshops, information booths at conferences, tours of Strauss manufacturing sites and online activities. During 2013, more than 2,000 dieticians participated in different activities which helped enrich their knowledge and understanding of how our products can contribute to healthy lifestyle choices. A highlight of the year was the half-day workshop we hosted with a lecture on healthy products for children by Strauss Israel’s chief nutritionist and a cookery master-class by Phyllis Glazer, a well-known culinary expert specializing in healthy cooking.
Nutritional tools for kids: In 2013, we launched, as part of our Strauss Institute website, a fun game that helps kids learn more about nutrition in an interactive way. The online tool is called Meals from the Movies, and invites children to create a balanced, portion-controlled meal in a way which makes use of the different food items to form a personal movie on the screen. Each of the food types are “actors” in the movie and explain their role in an animated song. This game makes learning about nutrition fun, and provides a basic nutritional understanding which should help children adopt healthy eating habits as they grow into adults leading healthy lifestyles.