Kids Eating candy
No easy targets anymore... Brands are getting extremely serious about how they push their products to the young ones. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: UAE and Saudi Arabia member companies of the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA) announced today that they will 100 per cent comply with their commitment of responsible food and beverage marketing to children.

These companies include Ferrero, General Mills, Kellogg Company, Mars, Mondelēz MEA FZE, Nestlé, PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Export Corporation in Dubai and Unilever.

A recent study by IPSOS, an audit and verification agency, did an independent assessment of the IFBA member company’s marketing practices in the two countries and confirmed that these companies have in fact restricted their promotion to children.

The Responsible Food and Beverage Marketing to Children Pledge, was initially adopted in the GCC in 2010, is a voluntary commitment by the signatory companies to conduct responsible food and beverage marketing to children.

In promoting the pledge, GCC FBA’s are additionally focusing on improving nutrition and supporting healthier lifestyles among children. Moreover, it informs and benchmarks how food and beverage products are marketed in a responsible way to children under the age of 12 in the region.

As a vulnerable group, children deserve our attention. The 100 per cent compliance of our pledge towards the responsible marketing and advertising of food and refreshment products is a strong indication that industry self-regulation works. As an industry group, we have come a long way since the start of the program in 2010. It is the right thing to do, as responsible marketing, not only drives industry growth but also community wellbeing.

- Christine Greaves, Chair, GCC FBA, and Corporate Affairs Director at MARS

The pledge covers products containing saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, sugars and salt in its scope. In 2016 the pledge was enhanced by applying a set of nutrition criteria to define ‘better for you options’ for the purpose of defining better-for-you options in the context of food and beverage advertising to children under twelve.

The pledge applies to marketing material across multiple channels including TV, print, owned/third-party websites, radio, cinema, interactive games, SMS and more. All marketing and advertising campaigns are monitored by an independent external agency to ensure compliance with the pledge. To guarantee that strict standards are upheld, the member companies developed a set of regional nutrition criteria based on the European Union pledge and is recognized by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority.

In addition to the Responsible Marketing and Advertising to Children pledge all participating companies have implemented front-of-pack calorie labeling, based on the guideline daily amount (GDA) across all their products and have also committed to, reformulation of their products and to creating awareness about healthier lifestyle through own campaigns.