Marketing pledge “needs to go further” – BEUC

Posted by Josette Dunn on 28th April 2010

The European Consumers Association (BEUC) yesterday (27 April) insisted that a pledge to stop advertising junk food to children under the age of 12 throughout the EU needs to go further.

Five European snack makers have decided to sign up to the EU Pledge, which was originally set up in 2007.

Back then, manufacturers including Kraft Foods and Danone committed to stop any advertising on TV, in print and on the Internet that was targeted at children under the age of 12.

This week, more companies, including the members of the European Snack Association, signed up to the pledge, although this move attracted a mixed reaction from consumer advocates.

The BEUC’s Sue Davies said that the EU Pledge needs to go further to incorporate older children and all forms of marketing.

“We are pleased that they are recognising the need to market their products more responsibly to children but we think that the EU Pledge needs to go further. It only covers younger children, doesn’t extend to all forms of marketing used to target children and needs to have stricter definitions for which foods are covered,” she told just-food.

The ESA, whose members include Intersnack, Lorenz Snack-World and Procter & Gamble, said it had only now signed up to the EU Pledge this year because the association had to ensure all of its members were on board.

Dr Sabine Seggelke, public affairs and policy director for the ESA in Brussels, said the association had followed the pledge “very closely from the start” despite some of its members not signing up when the guidelines were first announced.

“Of course we followed the decision in 2007 very closely. We stated that we would support the pledge programme and would encourage our members to adopt the principle. The new pledge is not something that we have covered just now but we followed it right from the start,” Seggelke told just-food.

She added: “Fmost of these members, it already reflects business practices they are currently carrying out. Signing up is one thing, but for some of the companies, they already have that in place and never advertise to children under 12. Having a public announcement is something else.”

Under the pledge, foods that “fulfill specific nutrition criteria” based on scientific evidence or national and international dietary guidelines will be exempt from the ban.

The ESA companies will be subject to the pledge from 1 January next year.

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