by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: marketing

Jun 15 2022

Promoting low-carbon items in dining halls: an intervention

Carole Bartoletto, who works with dining services at UCLA, sent me two items.

I started with the research study.

Its title requires translation.  Low-carbon footprint means plant-based.  In this case, it means Impossible brand plant-based meat alternatives.

Their intervention succeeded in encouraging substitution of Impossible for beef, but had unintended consequences.

Although the intervention was followed by a decrease in sales of beef entrées and increase in sales of plant-based meat entrées, sales of other vegetarian entrées also decreased.

Students replaced vegetarian choices with Impossible burgers?

To their credit, the authors acknowledge the problem.

It is also worth discussing the nutritional differences between plant-based meat and other low-carbon footprint options. In general, lower-carbon foods (i.e., plant-based and sustainably-raised fish) tend to be healthier, but this is not always the case. Plant-based meat products such as Impossible™ are ultra-processed and relatively high in sodium and saturated fat. Consuming ultra-processed foods has been linked with higher calorie intake and weight gain (Hall et al., 2019).

The toolkit, in contrast, includes Impossible products but does not focus on them.  It presents a variety of vegetarian and vegan options as low-carbon options with many illustrations of ways to present this information.

This could be useful, and maybe more useful, without the Impossible products, especially if the ultra-processed meal alternatives discourage choices of vegetarian options.

Take a look and see what you think.

Note: an educational intervention in Great Britain that also gave participants free plant-based meats found more of them sto be consumed, unsurprisingly.

Mar 2 2022

Marketing infant formula: an important report from WHO and UNICEF

WHO and UNICEF have issued a new report: “Examining the impact of formula milk marketing on infant feeding decisions and practices.”

The website summarizes the main message: “More than half of parents and pregnant women [are] exposed to aggressive formula milk marketing.

The report finds that industry marketing techniques include unregulated and invasive online targeting; sponsored advice networks and helplines; promotions and free gifts; and practices to influence training and recommendations among health workers. The messages that parents and health workers receive are often misleading, scientifically unsubstantiated, and violate the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (the Code) – a landmark public health agreement passed by the World Health Assembly in 1981 to protect mothers from aggressive marketing practices by the baby food industry.

The press release explains:

The largest ever study of its kind, it draws on surveys with over 8 500 pregnant women and mothers of young children (aged 0-18 months) across eight countries, and more than 300 health professionals. The study…conducted in eight countries…exposes the aggressive marketing practices used by the formula milk industry, and highlights impacts on families’ decisions about how to feed their infants and young children.

The report begins with this prose poem:

The report’s main findings:

  1. Formula milk marketing is pervasive, personalized, and powerful.
  2. Formula milk companies use manipulative marketing tactics.
  3. Formula milk companies distort science and medicine.
  4. Industry systematically targets health professionals.
  5. Formula milk marketing undermines parents’ confidence in breastfeeding.
  6. Counter-measures can be effective.

Videos posted on Twitter.

  1.  Images of what you see
  2.  Misleading claims from the formula industry
For Infographics, scroll down on this link.
Comment: This is an important, timely report. Advocates have been complaining about the ways infant formula companies market their products for decades.  It’s way past time to intervene.
More on infant formula marketing tomorrow.
Dec 16 2021

One picture is worth…

 

Oreo Thins?  These have 35 calories per cookie instead of the original 50 or so.   The difference is hardly worth fussing about unless you eat a lot of them.

As for wine?  Sorry about this, but alcohol has calories—7 per gram, more than protein or carbohydrate (4 per gram) but less than fat (9 per gram).

Cookies and wine?  Sugars and alcohol?  Not my idea of a great partnership.

Thanks to Jennifer Pomeranz for sending this one.

Apr 26 2021

Least credible food industry ad of the week: JBS and climate change

This ad appeared in yesterday’s New York Times.

The ad is signed jointly by JBS and Pilgrim’s, but JBS owns nearly 80% of Pilgrim’s, so this is JBS’s ad.

At the bottom of this ad, you can read about the company in very small print:

JBS is the second-largest food company in the world, producing high-quality beef, chicken and pork products, alokng with innovative prepared foods and plant-based alternatives that reimagine the future of protein….

The company is based in Brazil, where burning of the rainforest to grow soybeans—to feed cattle–produces massive amounts of greenhouse gases.

In this ad, JBS promises to achieve “net-zero emissions” by 2040.

How?  It’s a bit vague on details.

We’re setting time-bound, science-based targets and backing them up with $1 billion in capital over the next decade.  We’re supporting producers by investing $100 million by 2030 in on-farm research.

We will cut our own emissions by 30% by 2030 and eliminate Amazon deforestation from our supply chain within five years.

For the record, JBS’ annual revenues are nearly 40 times higher than what it plans to spend on this over the next 10 years.

The company’s revenues have been declining.  Does that explain its sudden interest in preventing climate change?

This looks like classic greenwashing to me.

Before believing that this is not greenwashing, I’d like to see those “time-bound, science-based targets” and to know who is holding JBS accountable for meeting them.

Sep 8 2020

Marketing ploy of the week—and for schools, yet

Sigh.

 

According to Business Wire, Kraft Heinz, the company that owns Capri Sun, is donating “5 Million Pouches of CAPRI SUN Filtered Water to School Districts as Schools Turn Off Water Fountains”

The brand apologizes for swapping juice for filtered water and captured reactions of kids in a light-hearted campaign

PITTSBURGH & CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–While every schools’ plan to return looks different this year, kids know that recess will be on recess, masks won’t just be for Halloween and that water fountains will be off limits. CAPRI SUN knows this is a hard time for kids, so to help students have a safe and fun way to get water this school year, the brand is swapping its juice for filtered water. CAPRI SUN is donating 5 million filtered water pouches to schools in the Chicagoland area and Granite City, where its factory is located.

The company is running a sweepstakes to accompany its donations.

Shouldn’t we be happy that the company is donating water, and not the typical Capri Sun sugary drinks?

No.  Why?

  • This is marketing aimed at children (children can’t tell the difference between information and marketing, unless taught).
  • This is marketing a sugary beverage brand to children (children are highly susceptible to this kind of marketing).
  • This is marketing packaged water to children (tap water is drinkable in most places in the U.S.  If not, schools should be providing readily available urns of water).
  • The total value of the sweepstakes prizes is $400 spread across five “winners”(pretty cheap)
  • Capri Sun markets its products as juice drinks (but typically have 10% or 0% juice)

I was curious to see what the company says about its products, and looked up this one.

Doesn’t this look healthy?  Here’s what’s in it (note: concentrates are a euphemism for sugars):

FILTERED WATER; SUGAR; PEAR AND GRAPE JUICE CONCENTRATES; CITRIC ACID; ORANGE, APPLE, AND PINEAPPLE JUICE CONCENTRATES; NATURAL FLAVOR.

One pouch contains 13 grams of added sugars.

These are ultraprocessed sugary drinks, best avoided or consumed only rarely, and never marketed to children.

Aug 24 2020

Coronavirus marketing exploitation of the week: Lays travel chips

 

According to ABC News:

With so many people feeling cooped up due to restrictions in place because of the coronavirus pandemic, potato chip maker Lay’s has developed four new internationally-inspired flavors to satisfy both food and travel cravings alike.

But here’s the real gimmick:

The new flavors won’t be sold in stores.  Anyone wishing to taste one of the new flavors will have to reply to one of the company’s social media posts and tell them which country you’d like to visit.  A bag from the country they choose will be shipped to the lucky winners.

Lays tried this in 2016.  But you could buy those in stores, although not for long evidently.  The Greek Tzatziki flavor is the only one of that lot to make it into this one.

Frito-Lay, of course, is owned by PepsiCo.  So this is Big Food in marketing action.

Jul 24 2020

Weekend reading: health claims in food advertising.

Chefs Best has issued a short, handy guide to making health claims in advertising that will stand up to the Federal Trade Commission’s scrutiny.

The guide divides advertising claims into three categories.

How can you tell if your claim is OK?

First, consult with competent legal counsel. The FTC advertising substantiation policy states, “Objective claims
for products represent, explicitly or by implication, that the advertiser has a reasonable basis supporting these
claims”. It goes on to state, a “reasonable basis” means “objective evidence that supports the claim” and “at a
minimum, an advertiser must have the level of evidence that it says it has.” “If the ad is not specific, the FTC looks
at several factors to determine what level of proof is necessary, including what experts in the field think is needed
to support the claim.”

Good luck with that.  The FTC generally goes along with what the FDA says about health claims.

As for those of us who are the target of health claims: it’s best to remember that health claims are about marketing, not health.

May 4 2020

Tone deaf ad of the week, UK version: Krispie Kreme

Thanks to  Jane Snell for alerting me to the UK’s Krispie Kreme efforts to deal with Covid-19.  It provides a Krispie Kreme Coronavirus Update website.

In addition to delivering surprise doughnut packages, we opened our first drive-thru in Manchester on 16th April. The drive-thru is serving NHS, Police and Fire workers, who will be eligible to receive complimentary hot drinks and one of our three-packs of original glazed doughnuts. We hope to have all nine of our drive-thrus opened by the 27th April, to serve NHS, Police and Fire workers, to support them in the battle against COVID-19.

The Update’s Community page, “Serving Smiles,” says:

We’ve all been asked to do our bit. To stay at home and patiently sit. To social distance. To wash our hands. To clap for carers. To call our grans. Big or small we all have our part to play. And ours? It’s delivering moments of joy each day. Now more than ever you all deserve a treat. And we want to remind you that life can be sweet. So we are back up and running throughout the British Isles. We are here to serve. Here to serve smiles.

It gets better: Krispie Kreme wants you to join its social movement.

The site comes with a Coronavirus Q and A.  I know you will be relieved to see this one:

The CEO says “I want to reassure you that the safety and wellbeing of our staff will always be our No 1 priority.”

Yeah, right.

I don’t see anything here about worker pay, alas.

Or about how eating fewer doughnuts might be a good idea right now.