A host of manufacturers - 25 in total - including Kellogg, Nestlé, Mondelēz International, Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Co and Unilever committed to the pledges, while 25 retailers including Carrefour, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer were also in check at the forum's event this week in Paris.
The firms promised to:
- Stop targeted advertising to children under 12 for products that do not fulfil specific nutrition criteria based on scientific evidence and/or applicable national and international dietary guidelines by 2018;
- Industry-wide implementation of consistent product labelling and consumer information to help consumers make informed choices and usages by 2018;
- Make company policies public on nutrition and product formulation by 2016;
- Implement employee health and wellness programmes by 2016.
Nestlé CEO: Industry needs to 'scale up' efforts
Paul Bulcke, chief executive officer (CEO) for Nestlé which co-sponsored the forum’s health and wellness pillar, said the industry had to “scale up” its efforts. “The consumer goods industry acknowledges its role in the health and wellness of society, the issues around it, and the imperative need for actions,” he said.
“We have to accelerate existing initiatives. We have to engage in multi-stakeholder dialogues and efforts. We believe that The Forum will contribute to a positive impact in this area.”
Manufacturers signed up: Nestlé, Barilla, Bongrain, Kellogg, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Kirin, Campbell Soup, PepsiCo, Kao, Johnson & Johnson, Unilever,
General Mills, Danone, Mondelēz International, Bimbo, McCain Foods, Heineken, Colgate Palmolive, Kimberly-Clark, Ajinomoto, SC Johnson, Henkel, Smucker, L’Oreal.
Advertising to children
Commenting on the promise to stop targeted advertising of products “that do not fulfil specific nutrition criteria” to children under the age of 12, the forum’s communication manager Lee Green told FoodNavigator this would be based on criteria endorsed by the World Federation of Advertisers. He said pledges would be applied locally with respect for local legislation, and in the case of Europe, the pledge was in line with already agreed targets.
Two of the companies – Kellogg and Coca-Cola – were met with criticism recently, after a UK documentary accused them and others of guileful advertising to children through so called 'advergames' and social media engagement. All parties denied the accusations.
Asked if the pledges would cover this online marketing 'grey zone', Green said: “The CGF will build its actions upon the criteria set on this issue in many places e.g. EU platform and also other regions.”
Making policies public
Green said the companies had pledged to improve access and availability of information on “formulation of new products and services, as well as re-formulation towards less sugar and/or saturated fat and/or salt”.
He said this might be communicated through mainstream financial reports, CEO statements or voluntary communications like corporate social responsibility reports and websites.
On labelling, Green said “this may be GDA-based [Guideline Daily Amounts] or a nutrition profile or logo-based system. CGF companies have to comply with legislation wherever they have operations and also local guidelines. Legislations being local, companies have to apply the required local solutions".
On employee health and wellness, he said this included things like providing workers smoke-free environments. He said the forum’s members employ an around ten million people and a further 90 million people along the value chain.