Brakes: reducing sugar in yogurts

Date : 10 January 2017

Brakes, a leading UK wholesaler, has gradually reduced sugar in its own-brand yogurts with great results – achieving a 9% reduction in its peach yogurts and a 20% reduction in the strawberry flavour over a two-year period.



The wholesaler started its reformulation project because it felt like the right thing to do in response to increasing media attention about sugar levels in everyday products.

Brakes partnered with one of its suppliers on the reformulation project and initially targeted a 2% reduction in sugar in its strawberry and peach yogurts. The supplier that Brakes worked with had already achieved a 2% reduction in sugar in its yogurts and shared the technology it used with the wholesaler.

Brakes decided to reduce sugar gradually, over time to reduce the impact on taste for the consumer. The company thought that consumers were more likely to accept the change if it was done using a step-by-step approach.


Sugar levels were lowered simply by reducing the amount sugar added to the product and increasing the amount of milk.

One of the biggest challenges was to balance the difference between what ‘in theory’ was the nutritional content of the yogurt and what the actual nutritional content was when it was analysed. The difference was caused by changes in the composition of the yogurt once the cultures had been added. To overcome the challenge, Brakes used several nutritional analyses that were regularly repeated to ensure accuracy.

Brakes held taste panels internally and with its supplier to ensure the flavour of the yogurts remained largely the same but with a less sweet note. The yogurts weren’t tested on any consumers. Any reduction in cost by using less sugar was offset by the increase in milk – but this was essential to ensure a balanced recipe.


Although Brakes originally targeted a 2% sugar reduction, in total, a 9% reduction in the peach yogurt and a 20% reduction in the strawberry yogurt was achieved. This happened in two rounds of reformulation activity over a two-year period.

The greater reduction was achieved because the taste of the yogurts was accepted at the taste panels and there were no consumer complaints after launch. Therefore, Brakes decided that the reduction could be stretched as much as possible.

Here’s the sugar content before and after the reformulation activity:

Peach Yogurt 16.6 15.9 15.0
Strawberry Yogurt 15.1 13.7 12.0


Brakes experienced no increase or decrease in sales and no complaints from customers – the reformulation activity appeared to go unnoticed, which was a win for everyone involved.

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