Nutrition and natural content

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 1921. 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.
* (Geier et al., 2006)

Optimized recipes

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.

Committed to gradually reduce the number of additives

The Group sometimes uses food additives in its recipes to meet precise specifications – such as a long shelf life or an ability to keep without refrigeration if the integrity of the cold chain cannot be guaranteed – and consumer expectations (e.g. a creamy texture or attractive color). It therefore only uses ingredients and additives authorized by local regulations, and whose safety has been demonstrated by scientific studies.

However, being aware that some ingredients are a concern for some of its consumers, the Group has implemented a global approach to renovate its products by systematically limiting the use of these ingredients and gradually aiming to completely remove them completely from these recipes. Over the last five years, more than 140 recipes have been tweaked. In 2017, for instance, the Group replaced the existing The Laughing Cow range with an additive-free offering in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

By 2025, 80% of our child-centric product portfolio will meet the Bel Nutri+ criteria, our internal nutritional profiling system.

Consumer information

Even in countries where it is not mandatory, Bel provides the basic amount of nutritional information by local and international regulations 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.

The Group also joined the voluntary European movement EU Pledge in 2016, to bolster its responsible approach to communication aimed at children. Under this initiative, Bel pledges not to advertise any of its products that do not meet specific nutritional criteria to children under the age of 12 via television, the press or the Internet. In 2018, the EU Pledge was further enhanced to increase transparency and accountability by launching a mechanism through which members of the public and organisations can question the compliance of marketing communications with the commitment. More information can be found here. If you wish to file a complaint, click here.