Britain’s fifth-largest supermarket chain has already removed the cartoons from its Harvest Morn Frosted Flakes and Harvest Morn Choco Pillows, and will take off the figures from the final two packages – Harvest Morn Crisp Rice and Harvest Morn Choco Rice – by the end of March.
According to Aldi, the move follows the steps it has taken to reduce the sugar content in its breakfast cereals by 25% over the past two years.
“Our customers want a simple shopping experience, and that includes making it easy for them to make healthier choices,” said Fritz Walleczek, MD of Corporate Responsibility, Aldi UK.
“That means working hard to reduce sugar content where we can, without damaging our customers’ enjoyment of our products, but it also includes making it easier for parents to make healthy choices for their children.
“We recognise that pester power can sometimes make this difficult in the aisles and so began removing cartoon characters last year. Completing that process and waving goodbye to the last of those characters is one more step we are happy to take to support our customers.”
Turning the tide
One consumer group to gleefully celebrate the eviction is Action on Sugar.
Holly Gabriel, nutritionist at Action on Sugar, told BakeryandSnacks the watchdog hopes the same will be extended to other categories and taken up by other retailers.
“With many of the UK’s major retailers now having taken this step, it may be the case that the tide is finally turning against the flood of unhealthy food targeted at children,” she said.
“Those that don’t swiftly follow suit, especially popular brands, are being negligent. We’re in the midst of a child obesity crisis and companies should be doing all they can to help parents by providing healthy options.
“The [UK] Government has so far failed to take any action in this area itself, but it can surely now finally step in and underpin tighter advertising restrictions with similar rules for packaging and promotions.”
A spokesperson from the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care confirmed there are ‘no current plans to place a ban on using brand equity and licensed character, cartoon characters and celebs to promote high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) foodstuffs.’
However, she added the use of icons popular with kiddies to promote HFSS products are already subject to restriction as part of the Advertising Codes.
“Here advertisers must show a due sense of responsibility and are not allowed to use these marketing techniques when directly targeting HFSS product advertisements at pre-school or primary schoolchildren.”
When approached for comment, a Cereal Partners Worldwide spokesperson told BakeryandSnacks, “The branding for the majority of our [Nestlé] cereals does not feature cartoon characters and we have also been reducing the prominence of characters for a number of years.
“Any licenced character we may use (on pack consumer promotion), do not appear on any of our cereals considered high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) under the OFCOM nutrient profiling system,” he said.