Food companies are giving a range of traditional Kiwi fare a healthy tweak, as part of a shift to give consumers a range of healthier choices.
Chief executive of the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council, Katherine Rich, said companies were making big strides in the reformulation of popular foods to make them healthier.
Products that have been given a nutrition makeover include Sanitarium's liquid breakfast, Up&Go, which now has a version with 30 per cent less sugar, and Kellogg's Nutri-Grain, which has reformulated its standard product to one which has less sugar and salt and more fibre.
The liquid breakfast's less sweet formulation has earned it a five-star Health Star rating, whereas Nutri-Grain's new recipe has been given four stars.
Wattie's has also created a version of its traditional tomato sauce with 50 per cent less sugar, and 35 per cent less salt, but is yet to earn its stars.
The Health Star rating system was implemented last year, and allowed brands to be scored from half a star to five stars. Foods lower in saturated fats, sugar or salt will have more stars, as will those that are higher in fibre, protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts or legumes.
Ms Rich said reformulation of Wattie's tomato sauce "with the same taste that New Zealanders expect" was a big breakthrough of some major product research. She said these innovations in technology had also enabled the beverage sector to offer more low sugar or zero sugar options.
"One example is Frucor's recent launch of its Sparkling Oh! range, offering an alternative to soft drinks."
She said at last count there were 600 products with the Health Star Rating label on supermarket shelves, with the number rising by the week.
Public health specialist Robert Quigley acknowledged the change in recipes was a step in the right direction, but said it expected too much from the consumer. "This requires the consumer to make the change, but many won't."
He said the best solution was to reformulate their standard products, rather than create yet another niche product.
Mr Quigley was a "smidgen sceptical" of the rating system and advised those wanting to eat healthy to choose wholesome foods and prepare things from scratch as much as possible.