Sugar Puffs are to have the “sugar” removed from both their brand name and the product, in a bid to revive flagging sales of the sweet cereal.
The food, which is known for its Honey Monster mascot popular with children in the 1980s and 1990s, is to be re-branded “Honey Monster Puffs”, while the amount of sugar is to be cut – and the amount of honey used increased by 20 per cent.
The product’s maker, Halo Foods, said the decision had been made due to a backlash against sugary products by health experts.
Doctors and nutritionists have increasingly raised fears that the consumption of too much sugar could result in a range of problems, including obesity, diabetes and tooth decay – with some branding it as bad as tobacco or alcohol.
The revamped cereal will also feature traffic light nutritional labelling on the front of the pack so consumers can establish its the nutritional content.
The new Honey Monster Puffs will contain 8.6g of sugar – equivalent to a cube and a half – in a 30g portion, down from the previous two cubes per portion.
Health campaign group Action on Sugar, which has called for hidden sugar levels to be cut by 20 to 30 per cent over the next five years, warned that foods coated with honey were also unhealthy.
Nutritionist Kawther Hashem from Action on Sugar said: “It is highly concerning that many parents are still buying certain cereal products for their children which are laden with excess sugar and calories. Long-term, eating too much sugar leads to weight gain, dental caries and raising the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
“We urge parents to make more informed food and drink switches such as choosing whole-grain breakfast cereals with no added sugar and not those coated with sugar or honey.
“With regards to the re-branded Sugar Puffs, Halo Foods should be more concerned with gradually reducing the sugar content of their cereal and stop feeding children unnecessary hidden sugar.”
In 2012, an investigation by consumer watchdog Which? found that Sugar Puffs – first launched almost 60 years ago – were the third most sugary breakfast cereal marketed at children. In the past year, the product has seen sales plummet by 16.6 per cent to £14.4 million.
Dr Susan Dunnett, lecturer in marketing at Edinburgh University, said the brand needed to promote its improved health messages if it wanted to regain market share.
“There will always be parents who want to feed their children cereals which do not contain any sugar at all and this product is not for them,” she said.
“But for a brand of this sort, to try to regain some of the market, this is a sensible approach to remove the word ‘sugar’ from its brand name.
“Using honey in the name still indicates to people that it is going to be a sweet treat, but using the more natural honey is seen as a healthier option for parents to buy their children.”
Andy Valentine, marketing director at Halo Foods, said: “The Honey Monster was a staple of family breakfasts for decades.
“Our research has shown us that consumers still have a strong feeling of nostalgia, trust and loyalty towards him, so it’s fantastic that we’re able to bring him back.”