Milo takes a step towards a more sugarless future --- but not far enough

16 April 2019

It’s a case of one step forward and a few steps back for Nestlé’s Milo which has announced that it is removing cane sugar from the formulation of the popular chocolate and malt drink, replacing it with stevia and soluble corn fibre to provide sweetness and texture respectively.

While the new Milo is touted as containing 30% less sugar, this is in fact far less impressive than the bold, white letters splashed across its label might suggest.

Nutritional info shared by Nestlé reveals that the total amount of sugar in the drink will only drop from 19.8g of sugar per 20g, if served with skim milk, to 16g per 20g, again if formulated into drinkable form with skim milk.

Any reduction in sugar content is to be welcomed, as is the fact that both the new and the old label will clearly state the product contains added sugar, a feature that more food labels should adopt.

However, consuming the new Milo, which many Australians eat on ice cream ratcheting the sugar content higher again will still place consumers well above World Health Office (WHO) recommendation which says that less than 10% of daily total energy intake should come from sugars. (Evidence shows that high rates of caries result when the intake of free sugars exceeds 10 percent.)

This equates to about 12 teaspoons of sugar per day for the average adult, although for improved health benefits, WHO recommends that people should aim for just six teaspoons of sugar a day. 

The formula change comes in the wake of controversy last year when consumers questioned the awarding of a 4.5 health star rating to Milo, which was based on the assumption that just three teaspoons of Milo would be added to 200ml of skim milk.

Without the milk, Milo only scored 1.5 stars, leading Nestlé to remove the 4.5-star rating from its labels.