Self-regulatory advertising scheme shows ‘excellent compliance’, says review

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Beverage advertising initiative, Marketing, Coca-cola, Nutrition, Food and beverage advertising initiative

Companies participating in a voluntary scheme intended to restrict the advertising of junk food to children showed ongoing improvement in 2009, according to the program’s third annual review.

The Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) was set up by the Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB) in 2006 after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched a probe investigating industry’s marketing to children. Its stated aim is “to shift the mix of advertising messaging directed at children to encourage healthier dietary choices and healthier lifestyles.”

So far, 17 major food and beverage companies have joined the program – up from ten when it was first launched.

The CFBAI progress report was issued by the BBB, which oversees program compliance. It said: “There were only a handful of instances where non-CFBAI approved products appeared in advertising to children. These minor problems were detected and resolved quickly.”

Vice president of the Council of Better Business Bureaus and director of the CFBAI Elaine Kolish said: “The Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative was intended to be a dynamic program that would encourage participants to raise the bar when marketing foods to kids. Our unique self-regulation effort continues to show steady progress with many significant enhancements and tightening of program requirements.”

Among changes to the initiative over the past year, CFBAI now requires that all children’s advertising is for ‘better for you’ products, up from an original 50 percent. And program participants’ commitments now also cover child-focused advertising in new media, including interactive games, and G-rated DVDs.

The report found that about a third (32 percent) of participants’ television advertising directed toward children advertised a product containing at least a half serving of vegetables or fruit; a third (33 percent) included milk or yogurt; and 27 percent were for meals that provided a half serving of whole grains.

In addition, more than half (52 percent) of the cereals that participants advertised to children contained 10 grams of sugar or less, with some product levels down from 15 to 16 grams per serving before the initiative began.

“The evolution of the cereal category is one illustration of how the CFBAI is helping to drive changes in the kids’ food marketing landscape,”​ said Kolish.

Current program participants include the Coca-Cola Company, ConAgra Foods, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft Foods, Burger King, Dannon and Nestlé.

The full 2009 compliance report is available online here​.

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