832643aI’m currently rounding up information for an article I’m writing on ‘healthy’ food. Health is and has been, we’re constantly told, one of the key drivers of purchases throughout the last couple of years. And with the Christmas and New Year celebrations here in five weeks time, health will once more become a key issue as people try and lose weight as part of their New Year resolutions.

This has made me realise just how varied companies can be in their interpretation of the term ‘healthy’. Things have moved on from just the amount of calories an item contains, and now we’re looking at whether it’s one of your five-a-day, whether it’s low in fat and calories, whether it contains no additives or preservatives, how much salt and sugar it contains… The list is almost endless, and varies by product range and by sector.

A survey by Which? this week has helped highlight this. It revealed that supposedly healthy snacks targeted at children’s lunchboxes, such as Robinsons Fruit Shoot, Munch Bunch fromage frais and Kellogg’s Frosties cereal bars, could contain up to five teaspoonfuls of sugar in each serving. It also pointed out that Dairylea promotes the fact that its Lunchables Ham’n’Cheese crackers contain half a child’s recommended daily calcium intake – but forgets to mention that it also contains more than half the recommended daily allowance of salt for a 4- to 6-year-old.

The simple message here is not to be bamboozled by all of the claims and counter-claims on the packaging of what you sell. One man’s freedom from artificial additives is another man’s recommended daily allowance of sugar. Just make sure that what you offer to your customers is a range that’s right for your store and your clientele – and keep an eye on the latest reports in the newspapers!