Italian sweet snacks beat foreign competition

Italian bakery products for children, a family tradition commonly served at breakfast and out of home, fear no comparison with similar snacks in the UK and the USA. According to a research by bakery association Aidepi and the Italian foundation for food education, Foodedu, the nutritional values of “merendine”, as they are commonly known in Italy, on average contain lower fat and calories than their international competitors.


Regardless of differences in taste and flavor, the average size of single-serve sweet snacks is smaller in Italy (34.3 gr) than in the UK (66gr) and the USA (81.3gr). Italian “merendine” on average contain 5.7 grams of fat (2.1 grams of which are saturated), 9 grams of sugar, and 136 kcal, which represent a percentage of between 5%-10% of the daily intake for children aged 7-12. Parameters are in line with the guidelines from SINU – the Italian Society for Human Nutrition. In the UK, the single-serve sweet bakery products contain 12 grams of fat (5.2 gr are saturated), 19 grams of sugar and 251 kcal. In the US, the larger snacks have 16 grams of fat (6.6 gr are saturated, three times higher than the Italian products) 26 grams of sugar and 344 kcal. Over the past 10 years, Italian manufacturers of individual bakery snacks have reduced saturated fat content by 20%, sugar by 30% and calories by 21%. They have also eliminated trans fatty acids.


“The study confirms the unique qualities of a product unmatched for balanced nutritional values and size,” Aidepi director Mario Piccialuti said. “For years we have tried to explain to the public that the warnings launched in countries such as the UK and the United States, where bakery products have a different sugar and fat content, cannot affect our ‘merendine’, which are part of the best Italian food tradition,” Piccialuti said. Italian bakery products makers invest 20 million euros, or 20% of their turnover to innovate a category that last year recorded a 9% increase in the offer of wellness ranges, he said. The study showed a different approach to food consumption in the three countries.


In Italy, taste is increasingly linked to wellness: consumption of added sugar is under control and the daily intake is estimated at 53gr for children aged 4-10, and 56 gr for those aged 11-18. The values are slightly higher than the recommendations by the World Health Organization, which suggest keeping intake below 10% of daily calories. An Italian child aged 12 consumes 40% less sugar than a child of the same age living in the US and 30% less than a child in the UK. The number of obese children in Italy is three times smaller than in the UK and four times lower than in the United States.