The reformulation comes as Nestlé this weekend signed the UK government’s latest addition to its public health Responsibility Deal, which seeks to reduce levels of saturated fats.
Wafer filing reformulation
Sally Pain, corporate communications at Nestlé told ConfectioneryNews: “The reduction has been made by changing the oil that is used to make the wafer filling – this new oil is of palm oil origin and is from a segregated sustainable source.”
“The new palm oil that we are now using has a different specification to the previous oil we used. This has a lower saturated fat profile and once it is combined with the praline in the wafer of the Kit Kat results in the reduction of the overall saturated fat level of the product.”
According to the American Palm Oil Council, palm oil is approximately 50% saturated fat and 50% unsaturated fat, while palm kernel oil is 82% saturated fat.
Saturated fat cuts
Nestlé has yet to reveal the specific fraction of palm oil it is using, but the replacements have led to around a 10% reduction in saturated fat levels.
Saturated Fat (Before)
Saturated Fat (After)
Kit Kat 2 Finger - Milk Chocolate
Kit Kat 4 Finger - Milk Chocolate
Kit Kat 4 Finger - Dark
Why is saturated fat bad?
According to the British Heart Foundation, too much saturated fats can increase cholesterol in the blood, which ups the risk of developing coronary heart disease.
However, a dissenting voice writing in the British Medical Journal last week raised doubts about the link between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular risk and said that government health initiatives would be better served by targeting other dietary components like sugar.
Nestlé’s R&D team in York spent three years tweaking the recipe for Kit Kat. Nestlé said the reformulation would remove 3,800 metric tons of saturated fat from the public’s diet.
It added that the level of sugar and the calorie count remained the same, while taste was not affected.
“It is impossible to put an exact price on the reformulation but it has taken over three years’ worth of working hours on research and development. There will be no change in price of Kit Kat,” said Pain.
“The process has taken us over three years of research and development including engineering changes to the factory to enable us to use this new product. “
“In addition, the shelf life of a Kit Kat is 9 months and it was important to carry out tests throughout the lifecycle of the bar to ensure the product is in perfect condition when a consumer purchases it from a shop.”
Starting next year
Products made with the new recipe will be sold from early next year and will be manufactured at Nestlé’s factory in York, UK.
Pain said that the company was also investigating cutting saturated fat in other confectionery products, but the final feasibility results are not available yet.
The UK Department of Health's saturated fat reduction pledge was added to its public health Responsibility Deal on Saturday 26 October. Nestlé became a signatory along with Mondelez International, Burton Foods and Unilever.