by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Food-marketing

Aug 25 2022

Annals of marketing: Can’t make this stuff up

This one comes from Great Britain.

Whew.  I was worried about potatoes.  What a relief!

I thought it was a spoof, but it’s not.  ASDA (formerly Associated Dairies) is a Walmart subsidiary in Great Britain.

It offers other products labeled the same way.   In case you were worried.

Jun 28 2022

Annals of marketing inventiveness: selling OJ

Nostalgia: I can still remember 6-ounce glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice.

Never mind, it’s a new world.

My former student and now colleague, Lisa Young, did not want me to miss this one: Tropicana’s campaign to pour orange juice over cereal.

Tropicana has invented a special cereal for this purpose (I wonder how it tastes?).

But I’m sure Tropicana would be pleased if you poured OJ on any other cereal.

OJ is fine, but watch out for the 22 grams of sugar in 8 ounces (one orange has about 12).

May 11 2022

Food industry opposes the UK’s strategy to improve health

Last month, the UK government announced guidance for the food industry on compliance with its new policies on dealing with foods High in Fat, Sugar, or Salt (HFSS): Restricting promotions of products high in fat, sugar or salt by location and by volume price: implementation guidance.  

The food industry is not happy about these policies.

Kellogg has launched a legal challenge.

Kellogg has launched a legal challenge against the Government’s upcoming restrictions on retail promotions for food and drink high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS), claiming the rules unfairly represented breakfast cereals.

On what basis?

The manufacturer argued that the formula used tomeasure the nutritional value of food was wrong when it came to breakfast cereals, as the Nutrient Profiling Model (NPM) only accounted for portions of dry cereals and not for a bowl of cereal and milk…Breakfast cereals are dehydrated foods, that are intended to absorb milk to make the food more palatable and give the food its intended flavour and texture.  Hardly anyone sits down to a bowl of dry breakfast cereals in the morning – cereals are almost always eaten with milk.

What’s really at stake?

From October this year, new legislation will restrict retail promotion of HFSS products. The changes could lead to a reported loss of 1.1bn per year.

The food industry is also arguing that the new regulations will cause a consumer backlash.

These restrictions might escape public scrutiny, but consumers will get a horrible shock when they wake up one day and find their favourite brands have been ruined by regulation and cost more.  Unless manufacturers fight back, be it in the courts or out in the public square, it’ll be too late to do anything about it.

And that the HFSS regulations won’t do any good.

The soft drink industry, however, sees the regulations as no problem: “The soft drinks category will be affected by new HFSS legislation coming into force in England. But having already done plenty of work in reformulating and innovating for the UK sugar tax, the sector is well placed to turn a challenge into an opportunity.”

What’s all this about?  Here’s a quick review of the HFSS history:

2018: In Chapter 2 of the Childhood Obesity Plan,  the UK government set out its intention to end the promotion of high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) products by location and by price.  It committed to consult on how this should be implemented.  This was based on evidence that food retail price promotions are widespread and effective at influencing food preferences and purchases (particularly for children), and on previous reports recommending reducing and rebalancing promotions towards healthier food and drink to help prevent obesity in children.

2019: The consultation on restricting the promotion of HFSS products was held.

2020:  The government theld a consultation on technical enforcement of the restrictions.  It announced in Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives, that it would legislate to end promotion of HFSS products by volume (for example, “buy one get one free”) and location both online and in store in England.  It published a formal consultation response.

2021: The government introduced legislation to restrict the promotion of HFSS products by volume price both online and in store in England., based on the nutrient profiling technical guidance 2011.) These regulations will come into force on 1 October 2022.

2022: The new restrictions on HFAA promotion. 

Apr 27 2022

The latest superfruit: bananas!

A reporter sent me this emailed announcement from a publicist for Dole hoping to generate storeis about how bananas can relieve stress.   Your problems are solved!

Hi —

Hope all is well! Following up on the below story. In honor of National Banana Day on April 20 and April’s designation as Stress Awareness MonthDole Food Company is sharing 10 recipes that celebrate the iconic yellow fruit and the science-backed link between bananas and the alleviation of stress.

Would love your consideration for coverage!

What do bananas do for stress?

 “Bananas contain vitamin B6, which is involved in the creation of feel-good neurotransmitters, and research suggests that they can also reduce inflammation and oxidative stress levels. Another study found that foods like bananas that contain prebiotics may also promote more restful sleep.”

And that’s not all:

Fruit lovers may go bananas for the following recipes as they are not only delicious, but are either vegetarian, vegan and/or gluten-free. The recipes are the latest installment of “Healthier by Dole,” the produce giant’s ongoing monthly healthier recipe series to encourage eating that is good for both the mind and the body.

The press release is here.

Comment: I’m all for eating fruit but are bananas better than any other kind for relieving stress?  None of this is based on studies that compare one fruit to another.  All fruits contain B vitamins and other good things.  Eat the ones you like!

 

Mar 31 2022

Marketing works! A post stolen (OK, with permission) from ConscienHealth

I am a big fan and daily reader of ConscienHealth, mainly because its producer, Ted Kyle, invariably and consistently has something interesting to say about whatever he is writing about (obesity and health, usually).

I liked this one so much—it sounds just like something I would say—that I asked his permission to reproduce it.  He agreed.  Enjoy!

Controlled Study Shows How to Sell Less Easter Candy (if you click on the link, you can find the place to subscribe or comment)

Not every study in PLOS Medicine is thoroughly impressive, but this one is pure genius. Researchers at the University of Oxford have discovered that if grocers don’t promote Easter candy, they will sell less of it. But wait, there’s more. Those same researchers showed that promoting “healthy items” – like low fat potato chips – yields higher sales for those health-promoting snacks.

PLOS Academic Editor Jean Adams obviously recognized the genius of this research by Carmen Piernas, Georgina Harmer, and Susan Jebb. So she published an opinion paper alongside them, praising it. She says:

“Piernas and colleagues’ studies add to the accumulating evidence that restricting marketing on less healthy foods and encouraging marketing on healthier foods may be an effective way to support public health.”

But she also lamented the fact that implementation of tighter regulation of food marketing is slow to come. She calls it “a sad indictment of our collective inability to create a world that supports everyone to eat in the way they want to, rather than the way the marketers want for us.”

Easter Egg Hunts and a Trip to the Zoo

There’s a lot of great material in this trifecta of medical research and commentary. Adams tells us that supermarkets are out of control:

“The concentration of food marketing in grocery stores can feel particularly overwhelming with parents describing the ‘temptation’ as ‘like a trip to the zoo every week’ for their children.”

Seeing the brilliance of this research and commentary, headline writers got into the spirit. Our favorite:

Hiding Easter eggs better in supermarkets could rescue UK’s waistlines, Oxford study claims

Clearly, journalists understand how to capture the essence of serious public health science.

Actual Health Outcomes?

Crispy Fruit

Crispy Fruit, photo by Ted Kyle

There’s just one tiny gap in this beautiful story. None of this research offers any evidence of healthier waistlines. It presumes that selling less Easter candy and more low-fat chips will cause waistlines to shrink.

Good luck with that. For decades now, food marketers in the U.S. have been selling us all kinds of food with claims that it’s healthy stuff to eat. Sales boomed and obesity kept rising. Onward and upward.

So count us skeptical that selling more low-fat chips and a little less Easter candy will put a dent in the UK problem with obesity.

Click here for the Easter candy study and here for the study of merchandising for low-fat chips. For the commentary by Adams, click here. And if this screed hasn’t been enough, click here for our further thoughts on the quest for a sustainable, nourishing, food supply.

Feb 16 2022

WHO report on food marketing

The World Health Organization has just published “Food marketing exposure and power and their associations with food-related attitudes, beliefs and behaviours: a narrative review

This is an update of a review WHO published in 2009 on the extent, nature and effects of food marketing.

The update includes a review of studies from 2009 to 2020 of

  • Where food marketing occurs
  • How much there is,
  • Which brands and products are marketed
  • How they are marketed
  • How consumers react to food marketing

The report, which covers digital and social media,  concludes

Food marketing remains prevalent

  • It is especially prevalent where children are and what they watch on TV
  • It predominantly promotes “fast food”, sugar-sweetened beverages, and chocolate and confectionery
  • It uses a wide range of creative strategies  aimed at young audiences (celebrity/sports endorsements, promotional characters, games)
  • Its exposure is positively associated with habitual consumption of marketed foods or less healthy foods

The report confirms what advocates have been saying for years

  • Food marketing is pervasive
  • Food marketing is persuasive
  • Food marketing is bad for health

The bottom line: Food marketing, especially to children, must be stopped

Feb 15 2022

New York City Mayor Eric Adams

As a member of Mayor Eric Adams’ Food Policy Task Force, I was sent a press release last week announcing two new food initiatives in New York City, and asking me to comment on them.

Mayor Adams issued two executive orders.

  • Executive Order 8, Commitment to Health and Nutrition: Food Standards and Good Food Purchasing.  This sets standards for meals served by city agencies. It commits the city to Good Food Purchasing principles, which require transparency about how city agencies’ food procurements affect local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare, and nutrition.
  • Executive Order 9, Promotion of Healthy Foods in City Publications and Advertising on City Property.  This requires that all promotional materials put out by agencies and advertisements on city property regarding food — to the extent practicable — feature healthy food.

My comment

The best way to encourage healthy eating is to make the healthy choice the easy — and the preferred — choice,” said Marion Nestle, professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University, Emerita. “Mayor Adams’ executive orders are a terrific step toward creating a food environment that makes it easier for New Yorkers to eat better and stay healthy.”

I think it’s great that the Mayor cares about nutrition and health and is willing to do what he can to create a healthier food environment.  Let’s hope his actions have a big effect.

  • The current version of the press release is here.
  • The video of the press conference is here.
Jan 24 2022

Marketing to dietitians: the benefits of MSG

Members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics get SmartBriefs sent to their email addresses.

The subject line of this one: “A Surprising Sodium Reduction Tool for Your Clients

 

It is an advertisement; it even says so.  But it does not say who paid for it.

To find that out, you have to click on the subscribe or resource links.

Bingo!  Ajnomoto, the maker of MSG.

All of this is to convince dietitians to push MSG as a salt substitute:

 Extensive research has affirmed not only the ingredient’s safety, but its benefits for sodium reduction. Even the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has recognized MSG as a tool to reduce sodium in the food supply.

Is this a good or bad idea?  MSG still has sodium and its health effects remain under debate.

This kind of sponsorship should be disclosed, front and center, in ads like this, especially because much of the research demonstrating benefits of MSG was funded by guess which company.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics should not permit ads that lack full disclosure.

Members: Complain to the Academy that you want these ads to stop.

Thanks to Jackie Bertoldo for alerting me to this one.