Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 800-819)



  Q800 Dr Naysmith: Do they know the purpose of it? Do they know that you are doing it for that particular purpose?

  Mr Glenn: No. We found it serendipitously. It is a panel that many food companies use to look at the total gamut of what people are eating. We typically would use it in the Walkers business to understand how often maybe, with a sandwich, a bag of crisps is consumed. It was not designed to shed light on the issue of obesity but in looking into it we asked people questions: "Are you overweight, underweight" etc., and when you compare those different categories of person Cadburys and Walkers found, versus the national average, obese people tended to be lighter snackers of what would you see as—

  Q801 Dr Naysmith: The only reason I am making this comment is that there is lots of research, particularly from the tobacco industry, and people consistently under-report the number of cigarettes they smoke.

  Mr Glenn: That is a separate issue. When we were trying to work out our calculation of what were the calories that we would contribute in terms of the markets we worked in to the national diet, if you look at what people say they eat and you correlate that with what the industry shifts in terms of tonnages, there is an under-reporting. In the case of snack foods, it was by about 29 or 30%. I think a similar position was found with Cadburys.

  Q802 Dr Naysmith: I think it is a bit more than that.

  Mr Glenn: The limitations of that data are understood. What you have is an indicative trend. It talks about occasions, not calories. It is not as black and white as we may think it is with respect to the obesity issue and how people are eating. It was quite surprising that obese people, relatively speaking, were lighter snackers of crisps, lighter consumers of confectionery, lighter consumers of breakfast cereals, than the national average. They were heavier consumers of things like meat, pies, eggs, bacon and take-away food. The fact is we have an obesity problem, so we are not walking away from that but it is not as clear as we may think.

  Q803 Mr Burstow: This is self-reporting data?

  Mr Glenn: It is, yes.

  Q804 Mr Bradley: If people perceive themselves to be overweight, would they not be more likely to under-report what they perceive to be the snacking element that may be, in their mind, a contribution to their obesity? You would have that differential if people themselves felt that they were trying to tackle their own problem or reporting their overweight?

  Mr Glenn: It is a hypothetical observation. Maybe. I do not know.

  Q805 Mr Bradley: There was a makeover programme recently on the telly where they were trying to get this person to lose weight. She was nipping off to get snacks and pretending it was not happening. There was a sort of self-denial because she knew the whole purpose was for her to lose weight, because she was perceived to be overweight. You would over-compensate in that sense and not report what you actually were consuming.

  Mr Glenn: That is speculation. If this were a report set up to understand the drivers of obesity, let us say, you may get that type of effect. It is not. It is a broad, market research tool which has been around for many years. People understand what they are doing. They are ticking off, collecting wrappers and scanning, to provide a general picture about what is being consumed. I do not think that psychology would apply in this case, but what Cadburys and we are saying is that it is indicative of a slightly more complex picture.

  Q806 Dr Taylor: I agree with Mr Glenn that there has to be a common currency of energy intake measurement and it has to be the calorie. We cannot get confused with kilojoules and things like that. There is not any understanding. Even on the Committee, we had to ask this morning what is a normal calorie intake. I was very interested , Mr Hilton-Johnson, in your statement on your submission, "Improving menu choice to meet our customers' changing tastes". Has the addition of chicken select to chicken nuggets been steered by that? Is there an increased health value in chicken select rather than chicken nuggets? Are they less fatty? They are, I believe, pure chicken rather than minced up chicken. Is that a response to changing tastes or for marketing purposes?

  Mr Hilton-Johnson: Above all, it is a response to changing tastes. There are on the market some chicken nuggets which are very different from the chicken nuggets that we sell. Chicken selects are premium, breast quality products and we will be moving to an all breast meat chicken nugget next year.

  Q807 Dr Taylor: Are they less fatty?

  Mr Hilton-Johnson: I am not aware, off the top of my head, exactly what the fat content of them is as compared with the chicken nuggets.

  Q808 Dr Taylor: They are certainly bigger with less wrapping.

  Mr Hilton-Johnson: They are bigger and you get fewer of them. I will get you the information.

  Q809 Dr Taylor: Thank you. Mr Glenn, our experts have told us that the excess intake of calories worldwide is related to the increased consumption of carbonated drinks. You have already told us that the cola market is not growing. Is that just in this country or is that worldwide?

  Mr Glenn: I am not sure what the worldwide picture is but the UK cola market is part of the carbonated soft drinks market, part of a broader market. The growth market in the UK is water, I believe, and fizzy drinks tend to be flat at the moment, with the exception of diet products. I think that is also true for the United States of America. Having worked for a while in Holland, where there does not appear to be the extent of the obesity problem that we are facing in the UK, it is quite interesting to see that the per capita consumption of things like crisps and snacks and carbonated soft drinks is pretty high; yet levels of obesity are much lower. There is something about the way that Holland works. People do seem to do more exercise. Okay, it is flat so it is easy to cycle, but just from speaking to Dutch people they understand more clearly than the average British person does this notion of the golden rule of calories in, calories out.

  Q810 Dr Taylor: Can you give us a figure for low calorie Pepsi sales in this country as a proportion? You said it was increasing.

  Mr Glenn: Yes. I am fairly new to understanding the Pepsi business as I have only just started taking control of it, but I know that for brand Pepsi, which is not brand Coke, which is a 10% share of the total carbonated soft drinks market, 60% of what we sell is in diet variants. I do not know what the figure is for the Coca Cola company. I think it is quite high, but it is not as high as that.

  Q811 Dr Taylor: Do you yourselves make any pure fruit drinks?

  Mr Glenn: Yes, we make a brand called Tropicana which is a not from concentrate juice drink.

  Q812 Dr Taylor: With no added sugar?

  Mr Glenn: Nothing added, nothing taken away.

  Q813 Dr Taylor: Is that the same with Oasis that you make?

  Mr Cosslett: We do not make Oasis. That is Coca Cola. We sold our soft drinks business to Coca Cola six years ago.

  Q814 Dr Taylor: Fruit shoots?

  Mr Hilton-Johnson: They are with no added sugar. They account for about 17 per cent of Happy Meal drinks. In addition, it is interesting to note, that when we move to semi-skimmed organic milk, as we did earlier on this year, sales went up by 48% by changing to organic and changing the packaging.

  Q815 Dr Taylor: Mr Glenn, the salt and shake crisps that have the salt separate in them: are sales of those going up?

  Mr Glenn: Yes, massively. They are hardly a new innovation. I think they started in 1926 but we just happen to have forgotten about them. We represented the brand. We changed the brand name from Smith's to Walkers, which is the more contemporary brand. We advertised it and sales have absolutely rocketed, way beyond our expectations.

  Q816 Dr Taylor: To all of you, I understand that the word "mature" in advertising terms means that the market is full. Is that the case with the products that you sell at the moment?

  Mr Cosslett: The city keep telling us it is in terms of confectionery. It is pretty static. There are many ways that we can increase the value of the business for shareholders so there is no problem in delivering both agendas. The industry has been relatively static for a long time.

  Q817 Dr Taylor: That is the confectionery side?

  Mr Cosslett: Yes.

  Q818 Dr Taylor: What about the others?

  Mr Hilton-Johnson: There is some conflicting data about the informal eating out market. We are developing at a slower pace than we used to be but any trip along a high street in Britain will show you that the number of eating out opportunities is growing. We can only assume that it will continue to grow but within that the amount of choice is growing even more than the number of outlets. The range of different foods you can buy for eating out now is much greater than it was even five or 10 years ago.

  Mr Glenn: The cola market is flat and not growing. The crisp and snack market is growing at about one per cent. The chilled, not from concentrate juice market is rocketing. The cereal and porridge market is growing very quickly as well.

  Q819 Dr Taylor: What about breakfast cereals?

  Mr Mobsby: Basically flat.

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