Over 400 million people — many of them children — eat Bel products around the globe. Such trust makes it the Group’s duty to offer products that combine eating pleasure with nutritional benefits and quality ingredients, while consistently adapting recipes to specific consumer needs and expectations.
FORMATS ADAPTED TO NEEDS
The single-serving cheese portion originated at the Group with the making of the first portion of The Laughing Cow® in 1924. It is a truly a unique feature of Bel’s, and an area in which the Group leads the world.
Through the single-serving portion, Bel offers a practical format with many advantages. In addition to enhancing food safety and battling food waste, the single-serving portion contributes favorably to nutritional balance by virtue of the control it provides over the quantities eaten.
Studies have shown that consumers identify the single-serving portion as just the right amount* of product, and generally only eat one.
Starting with the recommendations of international public health authorities, as well as the opinions of specialists, Bel follows a policy of continuously optimizing its recipes. The Group focuses its efforts primarily on such key cheese nutrients as fat, sodium and calcium, while managing other nutrient content and ensuring that its products keep the same taste and provide the same eating pleasure.
Bel adapts its recipes and formats to the vital nutritional needs of the populations in the geographical regions where the Group operates.
In France, for example, Bel signed the National Health and Nutrition Program’s two Voluntary Commitment Charters for Nutritional Progress in 2011 for two of its iconic brands, The Laughing Cow® and Kiri®. In step with those charters, the Group improved the nutritional quality of nearly 20 cheese products from 2011 to end 2014, by reducing fat and salt content and increasing average calcium content. All targets were met and even exceeded in some cases, three years after signing the charters with the French government.
The Bel Group also joined the international SUN (Scaling Up Nutrition) network, thereby formalizing its commitments to nutrition in emerging countries. One goal to be achieved by end 2020, is to provide the needed amount of calcium and vitamin D content in its products for more than 13 million people in the SUN countries where Bel operates, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. To that end, Bel is fortifying the product composition of The Laughing Cow® with vitamins and minerals. The Group estimates that at least seven million people were able to benefit from the fortifying initiative in 2015.
TOWARD MORE NATURAL CONTENT
Food additives may be integrated into certain cheese formulations, such as The Laughing Cow®, Apericube® or Kiri®, when needed to perform a specific function. Depending on the product, such additives may boost product shelf life, for example, or provide a creamier texture. And when additives are not necessary, they are not used in the cheese, as is the case for Mini Babybel® Red and Boursin® Garlic and Fresh Herbs.
Bel, of course, uses only regulatory-approved additives in its products that have been demonstrated by international and national public health authorities to be safe.
Further, the Group uses those additives in quantities well below authorized limits.
Bel is aware that additives raise concerns among some consumers. That’s why, despite the lack of scientific evidence calling into question the safety of the additives used in its cheeses, the Group is engaged in an effort to gradually reduce the number of additives whenever possible, without diminishing food safety or the taste or texture of its cheeses.
Bel sometimes uses non-dairy ingredients like maltodextrin. The Group systematically limits the use of such ingredients and is progressively working to eliminate them completely from certain formulas.
All of the raw materials and ingredients procured for used at all Bel plants are conventional ones, meaning that they contain no GMOs, or adventitious or technically unavoidable amounts below 0.9%, in accordance with European Union regulations.
Even in countries where there are no local regulations, Bel provides the basic amount of nutritional information required under European Union regulation on the packaging of its products. The information is presented on the portion wrapping when the size of the packaging allows it, and may be complemented by information available at brand websites.
Further, when relevant, the brands contextualize how the products should be eaten, such as for breakfast or as part of a balanced snack, and if needed, offer advice about good eating habits.