U.S. Spotlight Index

Global Index

India Spotlight Index

Global Index 2018

D. Marketing findings

Key findings

  • The average Category D nutrition score increased to 3.9 from 3.8 in 2016, and Mars currently leads the ranking with a score 9.5 points.
  • FrieslandCampina showed the largest improvement by increasing its score by almost 5 points, primarily related to its updated global responsible marketing guidelines, which were updated in 2017. The guidelines now address a comprehensive set of media channels to which the company applies its responsible marketing policy, covers a wider range of commitments related to the representation of products when marketing to all consumers and includes a compliance assessment of marketing communications across relevant company markets.
  • Since 2016, companies strengthened their responsible marketing commitments – seven companies updated their marketing commitments to all consumers, and ten companies updated their marketing commitments to children. As indicated above, overall, the score of Category D has increased slightly.3 Based on stakeholder advice and input that indicated that, despite companies’ commitments, there is still evidence of companies marketing to children, ATNF has applied a stricter approach for evaluating evidence compared with 2016. This has consequently, led to stricter assessment and less progress in terms of score increases.

Key recommendations

Apply responsible marketing practices to a broader scope of media channels

A limited number of companies (6 out of 22) apply their responsible marketing commitments for all consumers to a wide range of media. All companies should extend their marketing policies to include in their scope both a wide range of media and forms of marketing, and all markets in which they operate.

More disclosure and transparency

The level of transparency, especially in terms of auditing results, is very poor. Only six companies out of 22 disclose their marketing commitments in full, including the media to which their policies apply, and only three companies disclose partial information regarding their auditing practices. It is important for companies to be more transparent about their commitments, compliance procedures and levels of compliance in order to win public trust.

Expand the scope of compliance review of marketing practices targeted at all consumers

Two companies provided their commercial or advertisement approval process as evidence of an auditing process. While such approval processes are necessary, they are not sufficient. All companies should set up a post-hoc auditing process as an additional check on the effectiveness of that internal auditing process, to ensure that it delivers complete compliance with the stated policy.

Align interpretations of commitments covered by pledges

Greater specificity is needed regarding what is covered by a pledge to create clarity for consumers and other stakeholders. The analysis has shown that when adhering to international frameworks or pledges, companies are not necessary aligned on the interpretation of which media or commitments are covered by the pledges. This creates a discrepancy in the implementation of the frameworks by companies. Therefore, scores for some companies may be impacted by their interpretation of commitments. For example, scores on Criterion D3 may be lower or higher than for other companies depending on their interpretation and application.

Adopt or strengthen marketing policies

Companies with a policy that does not meet best practice should seek to strengthen the policy. Companies that have not yet adopted a global policy on responsible marketing to children should do so and publish it. Policies should cover a wide set of channels and set strict age and audience thresholds equally in all markets.

Underpin marketing practice with an appropriate NPS

Companies should use a robust NPS that meets the criteria set out in Criterion B2 Nutrient profiling to define which products can be marketed to children across all markets.

Publish individual audit results

To demonstrate their commitment to fully implement the policy and their willingness to be held accountable, companies should make their individual compliance rates for traditional and new media publicly available.


Improving nutrition for all

The Access to Nutrition Index rates food and beverage manufacturers´ nutrition-related policies, practices and disclosures worldwide on a recurring basis.


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