Global food & beverage companies in the GCC achieve 100% commitment to restrict marketing to children

GCC-based member companies of the International Food & Beverage Alliance (IFBA) Ferrero, General Mills, Kellogg Company, Mars, Mondelēz MEA  FZE, Nestlé, PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Export corporation (Dubai Branch) and Unilever, today announced that they have achieved a 100 percent compliance against their commitment on the Pledge on Responsible Food and Beverage Marketing to Children in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. A recent study by IPSOS, the professional audit and verification agency, confirmed this following an independent audit of the IFBA member company’s marketing practices in the two countries. Independent audits on member company marketing practices in Saudi Arabia and have been conducted since 2012.

The Responsible Food and Beverage Marketing to Children Pledge, 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 underscores its wider commitment to improving nutrition and supporting healthier lifestyles among children. In addition, 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. 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 exclusive purpose of defining better-for-you options in the context of food and beverage advertising to children under twelve

The endorsement of the Responsible Marketing to Children pledge by the Advertising Business Group (ABG) in 2018 was the first step towards making it a standard across the advertising and marketing industry via self-regulation – driving greater consumer confidence. ABG has since developed this commitment into an industry code for the region and promotes greater understanding across the marketing and advertising industry via an online course developed in partnership with the World Federation of Advertisers and through trainings for University students.

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 & Drug Authority.

In addition to the Responsible Marketing and Advertising to Children pledge all participating companies have implemented front-of-pack calorie  labelling, 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.

All nine companies are members of the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA), a not-for-profit organization in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC). Member companies also encourage local food and beverage manufacturers to sign the pledge and participate in efforts and activities that encourage the public to lead healthier lifestyles.

Speaking on the occasion, Christine Greaves, Chair, GCC FBA, and Corporate Affairs Director at MARS said: “The 100% compliance of our pledge towards the responsible marketing and advertising of food & 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 has required our combined commitment towards doing the right thing as responsible marketing not only drives industry growth but also community wellbeing.   As a vulnerable group, children deserve our attention, and we are committed to continue driving our responsible marketing practices”.

Pledge programs are coordinated and led by members of the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA). Responsible Marketing of Food & Beverages to Children is one of four commitments that IFBA member companies have made globally. The other commitments are driving forward Product Formulation and Innovation, implementing Clear Nutrition Labelling, and Promoting Healthy Diets and Lifestyles. The commitments reflect the drive and conviction of the companies to support the World Health Organization’s Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseaes 2013-2020 and to play a leading role in addressing global health challenges.