Red Cliffs Bakery

Red Cliffs Bakery near Mildura has reformulated four of its popular savoury pastries to create healthier alternatives.

It’s proof that any size food business can support healthy eating in their local community, with some small but effective changes.


Baking up a solution

In 2017, bakery owner Peter Belsham began reformulating four savoury pastry products: a meat pot pie, a meat and savoury pie, a vegetable pasty, and a spinach and ricotta roll.

All four items are now classified AMBER according to the Victorian Government’s School Canteens and Other School Food Services Policy and the Healthy Choices guidelines. They were previously classified as RED.

By improving the nutritional quality of the pastries to meet the AMBER criteria, Red Cliffs Bakery has also expanded its business potential in the region.

These products are now supplied wholesale to schools, sporting clubs and retailers. They are also available in-store and through fundraising drives around the Sunraysia region.

The bakery worked with the Healthy Eating Advisory Service (HEAS) and the local health promotion team at Sunraysia Community Health Service to make these changes possible.

The reformulation process involved making small changes to the ingredients, to reduce the amount of fat and salt. The products were tested throughout the process to ensure they still tasted great and appealed to customers.

Once the improved recipes were confirmed, it was easy to implement the changes as they used all of the same ingredients, just in different quantities. In fact, the healthier products were actually cheaper to produce!


Community benefits

Peter is very aware of current population health issues related to poor nutrition, particularly among children. He wanted to be part of the solution, not the problem. He said that local schools also wanted healthier options for their lunch orders and canteen menus.

It took approximately six months from initially assessing the pastries to having the final AMBER products available to purchase.

Peter says the changes were successful with the support of HEAS and the local health service, and “customers didn’t notice any difference in the taste”.

Peter wanted to show that small businesses can be innovative and be competitive with larger businesses, saying “It shows that [small businesses] can still play with the big boys!”.

“I was worried that it would be too hard and confusing. But I learnt that making changes was easy. Just altering the amount of ingredients I was using and being patient were the main reasons we were so successful.”


Tips to take away

Here are Peter’s top tips for other food retailers that are interested in making healthier changes:

  • Make simple, slow and steady changes.
  • Be patient and open to new ideas and recipes.
  • Trial different versions and ingredients.

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