Food advertising fall making a difference

Advertising of snack foods and drinks by Australian companies has dropped by more than 50 per cent in Australia since 2005, according to new research, highlighting that Australia’s food and grocery industry is helping to make a difference on people’s exposure to high fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) foods.

A recent study by the World Federation of Advertisers showed advertising of (HFSS) foods had fallen by $200 million across all media in Australia over the past four years. Last year, companies spent about $180m to advertise products compared with about $370m in 2005, according to the research.

AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell said the results highlighted that Australia’s food and grocery sector was taking seriously the health and obesity issue by reducing advertising of certain foods and drinks, especially to children.

The number of snack and drink commercials viewed on television by Australian children also fell by 35 per cent between 2005 to 2007, the study by media agency Mediaedge:cia showed.

“These results highlight that industry is helping to make a difference. It also shows the importance of an initiative by Australia’s food and grocery manufacturers who have committed not to advertise certain foods to children unless they are promoting healthy dietary choices consistent with scientific standards,” Ms Carnell said.

So far, 16 leading Australian food manufacturers have signed up to AFGC’s Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative, which came into effect on January 1 this year. Under AFGC’s initiative, children will no longer be subjected to advertising for snacks, chips, softdrinks and chocolates on children’s television and other media, including posters in school canteens.

“It’s expected that this trend of reducing the amount of advertising of HFSS foods will continue into the future under the industry code,” Ms Carnell said.

Last week, the Federal Government’s Preventative Health Taskforce report Australia: The Healthiest Country by 2020 outlined several recommendations for food and grocery manufacturers which included monitoring self-regulated measures such as the industry’s advertising to children initiative, to ensure exposure of children to HFSS advertising is reduced.

“This initiative will be closely scrutinized and evaluated for its effectiveness and we welcome Government working with us to monitoring its success,” Ms Carnell said.

As well as requiring compliance with all codes, AFGC’s advertising initiative applies to all forms of media and is underpinned by a rigorous and transparent compliance program with complaints administered by the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB).

“The industry is committed to doing its bit to improving the health of Australians.”

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