Tesco: reducing ‘reds’ in Food-To-Go

Date : 10 January 2017

Customers asked Tesco to make its “Food to Go” range healthier. The aim of this project was to focus on reducing fat and turn as many front of pack ‘traffic lights’ from red to amber.



Tesco decided to start this activity with sandwiches as they are some of the highest selling lines in the range and would have a positive impact towards the health of a large proportion of “Food to Go” customers. The sandwich range was assessed on the front of pack nutrition status and ranked in order of highest levels of fat.


Here’s how Tesco worked with their supplier to reduce fat in its sandwiches:

  1. Common ingredients across the highest fat lines were identified to target the greatest possible fat reduction
  2. Mayonnaise and butter were highlighted as common ingredients therefore they were targeted
  3. Reduced fat mayonnaise replaced the higher fat version
  4. Added butter was removed in over 100 of the high volume sandwich lines

Tesco found that where mayonnaise was already added to the sandwich, butter could generally be removed. The sandwiches were reviewed to check the impact to the bread and the overall flavour and found positive results.

During the review, Tesco checked and reviewed several different aspects to ensure:

  • The flavour of the sandwich was not compromised
  • The sandwich maintained great quality
  • There was no consistency change
  • Microbiological growth was not negatively affected due to the recipe change

When Tesco and their supplier used the reduced fat mayonnaise it caused some viscosity and depositing inconsistencies. The reduced fat mayonnaise was slightly thinner, which created inconsistency in putting the mayonnaise on the sandwich. This meant that there were inconsistencies with the final product weight.

The final deposit was messier than the original, so Tesco solved this issue by running numerous trials to tweak the settings and ensure the new mayonnaise deposited consistently upon launch.

The main sandwich changes took approximately nine months to launch from the initial concept.


While individual lines saw quite small fat reductions, the number of lines affected, alongside the volume of the sandwiches consumed, meant a large-scale fat reduction was achieved across the range. The reformulation saw the chicken and bacon sandwich moving from red to amber on the front-of-pack nutritional labels and an annual reduction of 532 tonnes of fat.

Individual sandwich reductions:

  • Chicken and bacon sandwich reduced from 24.4g to 22.3g fat
  • Chicken and bacon sandwich reduced from 3.2g to 2.6g saturated fat
  • Chicken and bacon sandwich reduced from 467kcal to 445kcal
  • Chicken bacon and stuffing sandwich reduced from 23.8g to 23.3g fat
  • Chicken bacon and stuffing sandwich reduced from 3.7g to 2.7g saturated fat
  • Chicken bacon and stuffing sandwich reduced from 545kcal to 533kcal

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