McVitie’s is reducing sugar in nine of the nation’s favourite biscuits by up to 10%

McVitie’s has slashed the amount of sugar across nine of the nation’s favourite biscuits by up to 10 per cent. 

Recipes for Rich Tea, Chocolate Digestives, Hobnobs, and Ginger Nuts have all been reformulated in order to make the treats slightly healthier.

Original Digestives now contain nine per cent less sugar – meaning one biscuit is has around 0.3g less sugar.

Pladis, the owner of McVitie’s, said its new biscuits have passed the taste test with a bunch of ‘super fans’, and have already hit the shelves.

Each biscuit’s sugar content will fall under – or close to – Public Health England’s sugar and salt targets, created in a bid to curb obesity. 

Last week, Unilever, the world’s largest ice cream maker, also revealed plans to cut sugar content from children’s favourites including Twisters. 

The bold move follows customer outrage after Kellogg’s created a low sugar ‘tasteless’ Coco Pops in 2018.

McVitie’s has slashed the amount of sugar across nine of the nation’s favourite biscuits by up to 10 per cent. They include McVitie’s Original Digestives (from 2.5g per biscuit to 2.2g), McVitie’s Rich Tea (from 1.7g per biscuit to 1.5g), McVitie’s Milk Chocolate Digestives (from 5.1g per biscuit to 4.8g), and McVitie’s Original Hobnobs (from 3.9g per biscuit to 3.5g)

The nine biscuits which will contain less sugar are McVitie’s Original Digestives, McVitie’s Rich Tea, McVitie’s Chocolate Digestives (Milk and Dark), McVitie’s Original Hobnobs, McVitie’s Chocolate Hobnobs (Milk and Dark), McVitie’s Caramel Digestives and McVitie’s Ginger Nuts. 

They account for more than half of McVitie’s UK sales. 

The move will remove an estimated 785 tonnes of sugar from Brits’ diet every year, the company said.

And the biscuits have already hit the shelves with millions of shoppers having no idea. 


McVitie’s Original Digestives 

Before: 2.5g 

Now: 2.2g

McVitie’s Rich Tea Biscuits 

Before: 1.7g

Now:  1.5g

McVitie’s Milk Chocolate Digestives 

Before: 5.1g 

Now: 4.8g 

McVitie’s Dark Chocolate Digestives 

Before: 4.6g

Now: 4.4g

McVitie’s Original Hobnobs 

Before: 3.9g 

Now: 3.5g

McVitie’s Milk Chocolate Hobnobs 

Before: 6.2g

Now: 6g

McVitie’s Dark Chocolate Hobnobs

Before: 5.9g

Now: 5.7g 

McVitie’s Caramel Digestives

Before: 5.3g

Now:  5.2g

McVitie’s Ginger Nuts

Before: 3g

Now: >3g 

McVitie’s owner Pladis said the new recipes were ‘achieved through careful rebalancing of ingredients to reduce sugar and salt in order to get below or as close to Public Health England’s target while maintaining the distinctive taste.’

It said the changes had been tested on hundreds of customers including so-called McVitie ‘super-fans’ to ensure the reduction in sugar ‘could not be spotted’. 

A spokesman said: ‘They even made sure the biscuits tasted exactly the same when dunked in a cup of tea and used a mechanical dunking arm in a laboratory to record the time to break when dunked.’

David Murry, managing director of Pladis UK and Ireland, told The Grocer magazine: ‘For years we have been working on reducing sugar in the nation’s favourite biscuits.

‘It is exceptionally complex process because our fundamental philosophy is that we will absolutely not compromise on taste or quality of the ingredients.’ 

Various targets have been drawn up by Public Health England which advise manufacturers on how to cut sugar, salt and calories in foods. 

For most items, sugar and calories must be reduced by 20 per cent.

Last week, food giant Unilever said plans are already underway for a ‘responsibly made’ range from Wall’s Ice Cream.  Every ice cream in the kids’ range will have no more than 110 calories and a maximum of 12g of sugar per portion. 

Many manufacturers have decided to shrink their products size under pressures from the Government, rather than change the recipe.  

Pladis said its new biscuits have already passed the taste test with a bunch of 'super fans'

Pladis said its new biscuits have already passed the taste test with a bunch of ‘super fans’

Customers criticised Coco Pops in 2018 after the chocolate cereal tasted ‘stale’ with 40 per cent less sugar, but only one less calorie. 

Frustrated parents – whose indulge in Coco Pops for breakfast – said the new recipe tastes ‘out of date’ and ‘cheaper’, with 30 per cent less sugar than other chocolate-flavoured cereals, according to manufacturer Kellogg’s.

In response to critics, a Kellogg’s spokesman said: ‘Coco Pops shoppers told us they wanted the same great taste but with less sugar so that’s what we’ve worked hard over the last three and a half years to achieve.’   

A report from the think tank The Institute of Economic Affairs detailed how health officials are struggling to categorise items, battling over whether a Twix bar and Penguin bar are under the chocolate or biscuit category. 


Under the UK government’s policy of ‘reformulation’, food products are subject to government targets for the reduction of salt, sugar and calories.

The programme aims to change the ingredients in food to improve people’s health and has been around for more than a decade. 

It began with salt reduction targets in 2006, covering everything from sausages to crisps.

Sugar reduction targets came in 2017, covering foods such as puddings, biscuits, breakfast cereals, yoghurts.

Sugar reduction for milk- and juice-based drinks were drawn in 2018.

A wider programme of calorie reduction was due in late 2019, covering most processed foods, including those produced in restaurants and cafés, such as pizzas, ready meals, sandwiches and beef burgers.  However, it was not released. 

The Government plans, which aim to tackle obesity, don’t just cover ‘unhealthy’ foods, but every day items like salad dressings, nut butter and olive ciabatta.  

Although reformulation is not currently backed up by sanctions, these are constantly threatened by PHE.

So far there are 13 target categories for sugar, seven for milk- and fruit-based drinks, one for fermented yoghurt drinks, 76 for salt, and there will be 13 for calories.

Each of these categories is subject to a number of different targets, including a 20 per cent reduction in sugar or calories.