With its research showing 78% of consumers asking for products to be made healthier without compromising on taste*, research and training charity IGD has  published a new guide for food businesses to help them review and set portion sizes. The guide identifies opportunities to reduce portions where appropriate, to help consumers reduce their calorie intake.**

The guide has been developed following consultation with industry and is based on qualitative consumer research on eating out, on-the-go and in-the-home. Using three different scenarios, the guidance offers step-by-step support for companies looking to:

  • Downsize an existing product
  • Set the portion size for a new product
  • Review portion information on labels of multi-serve products

Hannah Pearse, head of nutrition and scientific affairs at IGD, said: “We know that portion reduction is a really important topic for consumers. Our research shows that 88% of shoppers want to improve their diet in some way, and that one in five of those looking to eat more healthily are trying to eat smaller portions. With obesity in the UK at an all-time high, we want to help companies reduce portion sizes without compromising on shopper satisfaction.

“Many food and drink businesses are already taking significant steps to make their products healthier, through reformulation, labelling and innovation. However, identifying opportunities to reduce portion size can be complicated, which is why we have been working with industry on comprehensive guidance to make the process simpler and more consistent. Today’s guidance is intended as another tool to support companies’ strategies to meet national public health targets and reduce calorie intake.”


IGD’s research found many consumers remain unaware that portion information is available on pack, while those who are aware often struggle to interpret the information correctly. Portion size can often be an emotive issue for consumers, but IGD’s qualitative consumer research showed that many are open to the idea of reducing portion sizes. As part of the research, all products and categories were considered, but the research focused on six key categories*** which are used by government to set public health targets.

Pearse added: “As the government continues to focus on improving the health of the nation, and particularly reducing childhood obesity, portion reduction will play a key role. Our guidance offers a consistent approach for businesses, which should make the process of setting and reviewing portion sizes much simpler to manage.

“Our research clearly shows that consumers are open to portion size reduction, but obesity is complex and there is no single solution or sector that can address it on their own. Everyone has a role to play on this journey, so we’re looking forward to opening up discussions with industry and other stakeholders about how to put this guidance into practice.”

The guide is available to download here.

* IGD, 2019. ShopperVista. Health, nutrition & ethics. Base 1,000 shoppers.

** Portion size reduction was identified in the Mckinsey Economic Analysis for Overcoming Obesity as one of the most effective interventions to help consumers reduce their calories.

*** These categories were: morning goods, pre-prepared meals, pizza, savoury snacks, ready-to-eat, and biscuits.