PepsiCo joins companies reducing ads to kids

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pepsico, Frito-lay

PepsiCo has become the latest company to bow to pressure on the
food industry from the rising tide of obesity, introducing
voluntary restrictions on its advertising to children, according to
an article in today's London-based Financial Times.

The company, said the FT, has also placed limits on the portion sizes of products sold in US schools, replacing its fried Cheetos with a lower-fat baked alternative in elementary schools and limited serving sizes for all snacks to 150 calories, rising to 300 calories in middle schools.

The company, moreover, apparently told the FT that for several months it has no longer been advertising its flagship cola to children under 12 or its Cheetos chips brand to under-eights.

Unlike Kraft that publicly announced in January that it was to reduce its advertising to children, PepsiCo seems to prefer to act out of the limelight.

"Our intent is not to just beat our chests and try to take credit for what we're doing,"​ said Irene Rosenfeld, the chief executive of Frito-Lay North America, PepsiCo's snacks unit. "We're just quietly doing it because it's the right thing to do."

However, PepsiCo executives have seemingly rejected calls for a blanket ban on advertising to children, as they believe the advertising channel should be left open as a way of promoting healthy products and lifestyles.

"We don't think banning things is the right way to go because that removes a channel through which we can be part of the solution,"​ said Steve Reinemund, chairman and chief executive.

Mike White, chief executive of PepsiCo's international division, told the FT that the most effective ways to reduce childhood obesity were to reduce time spent by children in front of TVs and computer screens and provide them with more opportunities for exercise.

Rosenfeld said in a speech at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference in Scottsdale, Arizona last week that "healthier" snacks would form part of the company's efforts to take market share away from cookie, cracker and candy makers.

She added that Frito-Lay plans to reposition some of its core salty-snack brands while putting more money into smaller products with high-growth potential, such as Sun Chips multigrain snacks, nuts and salsa, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.

She said that the company has begun testing Sun Snacks, a new line of organic chips and cheese puffs made with sunflower oil, at some Whole Foods Market stores.

PepsiCo had not returned calls from FoodNavigatorUSA.com before going to press.

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