CONFECTIONERY, CEREALS and soft drinks aimed at children are now worth £50bn globally, but promises made by manufacturers to clean up their act have been broken.
New research by Leatherhead Food Research suggests that children and teenagers represent a “major target audience” for food and drink companies. Product sales have grown 22.6% in value terms.
Many products have been reformulated with fats, sugar, salt and artificial additives reduced or removed, explained principal market analyst Jonathan Thomas. The way brands are marketed to children is also changing, he suggested.
“Not only has the emphasis switched to health claims such as ‘free from artificial additives’ and ‘low in sugar’, but food producers have also entered the sports and leisure arena via partnerships in a bid to improve fitness levels amongst the world’s children.”
However, the report coincides with research from Germany showing that manufacturers focus their advertising dollars on the unhealthy options.
FoodNavigator.com reports how researchers in Germany assessed almost 300 products from firms who have signed up to a voluntary EU Pledge to “change our food advertising to children”. Just 10% of the products sold by the likes of Mondelez, Mars, Coca-Cola and Nestlé should be marketed to children, according to the World Health Organisation’s guidelines on balanced diets.
Leatherhead also noted that legislation, including “sin taxes”, could be introduced if voluntary agreements – like the UK’s Public Health Responsibility Deal – fail and obesity levels continue to rise.