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SPAR Austria’s successful sugar reduction initiative continues in 2021

January 11, 2021 IN THE CATEGORY: Health, Responsible retailing

The sugar reduction initiative, launched by SPAR Austria in April 2019 together with manufacturers of food and beverages, the Austrian Medical Council, doctors and medical associations, has proven to be a great success and will continue in 2021. So far, 44 partners have joined the sugar reduction initiative and it has become a relevant stakeholder in the discussion about healthy eating.

More than 11,400 tons of sugar removed

“At a little over 91 grams per day, the sugar consumption of Austrians is still too high”, said former SPAR Austria CEO Gerhard Drexel*. The Austrian population exceeds the daily dose of 25g or a maximum of 50g of sugar recommended by the WHO. “The partners of the sugar reduction initiative continue to reduce the sugar content in food and beverages. From early 2017 to end 2020 a total of 11,454 tons of sugar has been removed by the alliance partners. In this same period, SPAR Austria reduced about 1,700 tons of sugar in SPAR Own Brand products”, said Gerhard Drexel. He added: “However, we recognise that many new products already contain less sugar or no sugar and therefore do not lead to any sugar reduction.”

Consequences of high sugar consumption

Experts believe that the measures taken by the sugar reduction initiative partners, in particular the consistent reduction of sugar, are essential. “Sugar has never been so omnipresent in our society. Even in products where we would not expect any sugar, it is often present. To change this, a proactive health policy and strong cooperation with the food industry and retailers are required. By gradually reducing the sugar content, we can ensure that our children get used to a lower level of sweetness in the long term”, said Friedrich Hoppichler, board member of the Austrian Special Institute for Preventive Cardiology and Nutrition SIPCAN, internist and medical director of the Hospital of the Brothers of St. John of God in Salzburg.

Medical Council demands a change in relation to sugar consumption

41% of Austrian citizens between 19 and 65 years of age is overweight or obese which is about 2.3 million people. “These figures should worry us as excessive body weight and an unhealthy diet are high-risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer or respiratory diseases”, said the President of the Austrian Medical Council Thomas Szekeres and added: “We, the Austrian doctors, are grateful for initiatives that encourages people to healthier eating.”

Sugar reduction remains strategic objective for SPAR Austria

At the beginning of 2017, SPAR Austria started to reduce sugar in Own Brand products. In addition, sugar limits have been set for individual product groups. “SPAR Austria will continue to reduce sugar consistently in the next few years”, said Gerhard Drexel adding: “We are constantly working on the reduction of sugar in our SPAR Own Brand products. In addition, we will continue to educate people about the effects of an unhealthy, high-sugar diet and point out alternatives.”

A change in the Board of Directors at SPAR Austria will not impact the company’s involvement in the sugar reduction initiative. On 1 January 2021, Markus Kaser, SPAR Austria Board Director for Buying and Marketing, took over SPAR Austria’s chair in the sugar reduction initiative. Former SPAR Austria CEO Gerhard Drexel, who was the founder of the alliance, remains connected to the initiative and will continue to campaign for healthy nutrition in the future.

*SPAR Austria CEO Gerhard Drexel stepped down at the end of 2020. From 1 January 2021, Fritz Poppmeier has become the new CEO.

Source: SPAR Austria

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About SPAR Austria

The origins of SPAR in Austria date back to 1954, but the current SPAR AG was created in 1970 when the original founding families joined with other regional wholesalers to form SPAR Austria AG – a 100% privately owned Austrian company.

With licences granted by SPAR International, ASPIAG (Austria SPAR International AG) has also developed SPAR in Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia, and Northern Italy.