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Nestlé to Stop Marketing of High Sugary Products to Children Under 16

Beginning in May of next year, Nestlé, the world's largest publicly traded food company, will discontinue all marketing, including advertisements targeting children under the age of 16, on certain high-sugar products.

Shivam Dwivedi
Nestle's new marketing policy to improve child nutrition by "coupling existing nutrition services, educational tools, and recipes."
Nestle's new marketing policy to improve child nutrition by "coupling existing nutrition services, educational tools, and recipes."

As per the Swiss multinational food and beverage conglomerate, its new marketing communication to Children policy will prohibit direct advertising to younger teenagers of confectionery, ice cream, and water-based beverages with added sugars. 

The ban will apply to TV and online platforms, including social media and gaming platforms, with more than 25% of their audience under the age of 16. Nestlé also stated that it will not collect data on minors and will only work with social media influencers over 18.

Nestlé's Head of Food and Industry Affairs, Marie Chantal Messier, stated, "Consistent with our existing policy, we will prohibit direct advertising of confectionery, ice cream, and water-based beverages with added sugars to children under the age of 16." This standard will be applied when children under 16 account for more than 25% of the audience. As in previous versions, the policy reaffirms the prohibition on product marketing communication directed at children aged 0 to 6 years."

Since 2017, the company has reduced sugar in products by 5.1% and fortified them with iron, vitamin A, iodine, and zinc. Still, it has decided on a new marketing policy to improve child nutrition by "coupling existing nutrition services, educational tools, and recipes." Nestlé claims these safeguards will help children and young adolescents lay a solid foundation for a healthy lifestyle.

The KitKat maker is urging other companies to take similar unilateral actions. The move comes in response to investor pressure to change the nutritional composition of the group's product portfolio. Based on the findings of a study published in Nutrients, the European Club of Childhood Dieticians (CEDE) issued a call to action on Nutri-Score, as D and E-labeled products were found to be below the World Health Organizations (WHO) criteria for ultra-processed foods. The CEDE emphasises that 34% of children aged two to seven are overweight or obese in France, and that unhealthy food marketing to children has had a visible impact.

High in fat, sugars, and salt, as well as ultra-processed foods, the packaging of children's products frequently includes drawings or mascots that catch children's attention. According to the CEDE study, most food marketed to children is sweet. Nearly 90% of the 1,135 products tested contained added sugar, and 23.81% had sweeteners listed as the first ingredient.

Furthermore, drawings appeared on more than 97% of product packaging, with nearly 78% depicting mascots such as heroes or cartoon characters. Anti-obesity campaign groups and the UK government have put pressure on manufacturers of confectionery, ice cream, and sugary drinks. The United Kingdom already has a sugary drinks tax and has partially implemented planned legislation to reduce fat, sugar, and salt (HFSS) in snack products.

This October, restrictions on where HFSS products can be promoted in-store, such as checkouts, store entrances, and the ends of supermarket aisles, went into effect. The company recently announced that it would prohibit the global marketing of infant formula up to six months old beginning January 1, 2023.

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