The world's top food and drink companies announced a raft of measures to try to
improve the industry's image, including stopping advertising junk food to children
by 2018, harmonizing nutritional labeling and fighting deforestation. The Consumer
Goods Forum (CGF), an industry network of some 400 retailers, manufacturers and
other players from 70 countries with combined sales of 2.5 trillion euros ($3.4 trillion),
agreed the commitments at its annual summit in Paris."It is not business as usual
anymore. Pressure is mounting from all sides and angles," Paul Bulcke, chief executive
of Nestle, the world's biggest food and drink firm behind brands such as Kit-Kat and
Nescafe, told the meeting.
Food manufacturers and retailers have come under mounting pressure in recent years
over their role in a range of issues from the global obesity epidemic, to climate change
and deforestation due to the growth of palm oil production. The steps announced included
a commitment to stop targeting advertising to children under 12 years by 2018 of products
that fail to meet certain nutrition criteria and to introduce industry-wide labeling by 2018
to help consumers make healthier food choices.
Bulcke said the CGF board also agreed that members would make company policies
on nutrition and product formulation public by 2016. The CGF promised its members
would aim for zero net deforestation by 2020 through the more sustainable sourcing
of key commodities and begin phasing out hydro fluorocarbons, blamed for contributing
to global warming, in new refrigeration units by 2015.
In 2011, top U.S. food and drink makers including Coca-Cola and Kellogg Co agreed to
industry-created voluntary nutrition guidelines for products marketed towards children
under the age of 12. But the food, beverage and restaurant industries as a whole have
successfully fought most government oversight on food advertising to children.
In October 2013, U.S. legislation was proposed that would require uniform front-of-package
food labels in a move to streamline labels and clarify certain claims on nutrition. In Europe,
regulations that go into effect in December 2014 change existing legislation on food
labeling that would require nutrition information on processed foods, origin labeling of
unprocessed meat, the highlighting of allergens such as peanuts and better legibility.