Earlier this year, the European Snacks Association (ESA) announced its commitment to the voluntary initiative, and Estrella Maarund’s move follows that of other ESA member companies such as Intersnack, Lorenz Snack-World, Procter & Gamble, Unichips and Zweifel Pomy-Chip, who all signed up to the pledge in April.
By joining the EU Pledge, all member companies have made a commitment to changing food and beverage advertising on TV, print and internet to children under 12 in the EU.
Sabine Seggelke, public affairs and policy director for the ESA said that Estrella Maarud's joining the pledge will have a “considerable impact” on it. “Estrella Maarud is a leading snacks manufacturer in the Nordic and Baltic markets. We are delighted that [it has] joined the initiative."
Commitment to the pledge
Over the past few years, the rising incidence of childhood obesity has stirred up the issue of children’s food marketing. In 2005, the consumer affairs commissioner, Markos Kaypriano gave a warning to the food industry to restrict advertising products that are high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) to children.
The EU pledge followed in December 2007 when 11 leading food and beverage companies, including two ESA member companies, LU Snack Foods (Kraft) and PepsiCo, agreed to stop running junk food adverts on the TV, print and internet.
“The companies that joined the pledge represent the bulk of advertising expenditure in the European savoury snacks market,” said Seggelke, who added that the ESA encourages "all relevant members to commit to the pledge in due course. “
However, there remains a debate over whether self regulation by the industry is sufficient and if the restriction of advertising to children should be enforced by governments.
In July 2011 Tim Lobstein, director of policy at the International Association for the Study of Obesity (ISAO), claimed that, although progress had been made over the last six years, the impact of voluntary measures was “not enough”.
"Food companies are making pledges and showing that they are sticking to those, but the pledges have loopholes. They don't all stick to the same criteria around the definition of marketing, what age group of children and what foods are covered,” he said.
Seggelke told BakeryandSnacks.com that the EU Pledge monitoring report 2009 to 2010 – presented this week at the EU commission’s platform plenary meeting – demonstrated “high compliance rates and a significant reduction in children’s exposure to advertising.”
“There is not a choice between regulation and self-regulation: self-regulation complements a legislative framework and cannot operate in isolation from it. But advertising self-regulation can be more dynamic and more effective than stricter legislative guidelines,” Seggelke commented.
She said that self-regulation, such as the EU Pledge, ensures the widest possible support from leading food manufacturers and creates a flexible framework which covers a variety of products:
“It incentivises marketers to devise innovative communication strategies and enables us to achieve tangible results immediately,” added Seggelke.