Food firms have upped their commitments in the way they advertise food to kids

Food firms have upped their commitments in the way they advertise food to kids

Nine of the world's largest food manufacturers have moved to extend the restrictions they have placed on how they advertise to children.

Companies including Nestle, Mondelez International and Mars Inc said the new pledges would cover more media and ensure certain "marketing techniques" were only used for "better-for-you" products.

The restrictions follow those announced in 2009 by a group of companies under the International Food & Beverage Alliance industry organisation. The policies were updated in 2011 to cover areas including company-owned websites but today (22 September) the IFBA announced a fresh set of commitments.

The manufacturers, which also include Grupo Bimbo, Unilever and General Mills, said the new policies will cover "virtually all media", including radio, cinema, mobile and SMS marketing.

Marketing techniques, such as the use of licensed characters, movie tie-ins and celebrities that appeal to children under 12, will only be used for products meeting "better-for-you" criteria.

The manufacturers, which set out out their plans in a letter to World Health Organization director general Dr Margaret Chan, said they would look to "harmonise" nutrition criteria.

When the initial restrictions were announced in 2009, the companies that signed up had defined their own nutrition criteria. Now, the IFBA said, members had decided to "commit to working towards harmonising nutrition criteria to ensure that better-for-you foods are based on robust common standards".

The IFBA said the move would build on work manufacturers had made on the issue in markets including the EU and the US.

"The major food and beverage companies have strict controls in place on how they communicate with younger audiences. This latest strengthening of the IFBA global policy demonstrates the extent to which IFBA members are taking their responsibilities seriously when it comes to marketing to children," said Stephan Loerke, managing director of the World Federation of Advertisers.

The full letter to the World Health Organization, outlining each commitment can be found here

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World’s largest global food and beverage companies strengthen their common commitments on responsiblemarketing to children

New policy expands media coverage, covers marketing techniques and aims to harmonize “better-for-you” criteria in local and regional pledges for foods that can be marketed to children


Brussels, 22nd September 2014: The CEOs of the world’s leading food and non-alcoholic beverage companies[1] and members of the International Food & Beverage Alliance (IFBA), have unveiled enhanced global commitments in the field of food and non-alcoholic beveragemarketing to children.

The commitments, announced today, form part of a broader package of measures sent in a letter to World Health Organization Director General Dr Margaret Chan, which will guide companies’ health and wellness strategies over the coming years.

Based on recommendations from the World Health Organisation as well as national governments and other organisations designed to improveglobal health, the package includes a commitment to product reformulation and innovation as well as a common global approach to the provision of nutrition information on pack, at point of sale and through other channels by the end of 2016.

It also includes an expansion of IFBA’s global marketing policy, in place since 2009, which specified that members would only advertise products that meet “better-for-you” criteria or refrain from all product marketing to children under 12 years old. The policy covers TV, print, schools, the internet and company-owned websites. The enhanced 2014 policy strengthens the policy in three core areas.

·          Firstly, the expanded global policy will cover virtually all media, including radio cinema, direct marketing, mobile and SMS marketing, interactive games, DVD/CD-ROM and product placement.

·          Secondly, the new policy will ensure that use of certain marketing techniques, such as licensed characters, movie tie-ins and celebrities that appeal to children under 12, in product marketing communications that are primarily directed to children under 12, are only for products meeting the “better-for-you” criteria

·          Finally, under the previous policy and in the absence of one single global set of nutritional guidelines, the companies that advertise “better-for-you” products to children under 12 defined their own nutrition criteria, based on acceptable international and national guidelines. Members now commit to working towards harmonizing nutrition criteria to ensure that “better for you” foods are based on robust common standards, as part of expanding pledge efforts on a regional or national basis as they have already done in a number of countries, including in the European Union, the U.S.A. and Singapore.

These new standards for marketing to children, which come into force by the end of 2016, will constitute the minimum global criteria for all IFBA companies.

“The major food and beverage companies have strict controls in place on how they communicate with younger audiences. This latest strengthening of the IFBA global policy demonstrates the extent to which IFBA members are taking their responsibilities seriously when it comes to marketing to children,” said Stephan Loerke, Managing Director of the World Federation of Advertisers.

Importantly, these criteria will be used to update local “pledge programme” initiatives, which are based on the IFBA global policy but which also bring in local companies in order to extend market coverage.

Local “pledge programmes” are already in place in over fifty markets worldwide representing roughly three billion of the world’s population, including Australia, Canada, the EU, the Gulf Cooperation Council, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey and the U.S.A. Local schemes extend policy coverage well beyond IFBA membership. For example, the EU Pledge covers over 80% of the market while the USChildren’s Food and Beverage Initiative covers roughly 80% of food marketing spend in the US.

IFBA commits to independently monitoring compliance with these new commitments.

Original source: International Food & Beverage Alliance