‘Smart Swaps’ campaign should demand more from industry, says CFC

02-Jan-2014 - By Caroline Scott-Thomas+
CFC says supermarkets should permanently replace promotions on unhealthy products with those for healthier items
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Public Health England’s campaign encouraging consumers to swap unhealthy foods for healthier ones should demand more from food companies and supermarkets, according to the Children’s Food Campaign.

The latest Public Health England Change4Life TV advertising campaign, dubbed Smart Swaps, will urge consumers to swap sugary drinks for sugar free options or low fat milk, and to choose low sugar cereals and low fat dairy.

Public health minister Jane Ellison said: “We know how difficult it can be to make big changes to your diet, which is why this new Change4Life campaign suggests small changes as a step in the right direction.

“…We want to make it easy for everyone to keep track of what they eat and make healthier choices. By working with industry through the Responsibility Deal, we have, for example, already significantly reduced artificial trans fat and salt in foods, and set up consistent front of pack food labelling which all the major supermarkets and some big manufacturers have signed up to.”

Demanding ‘real change’

Although the Children’s Food Campaign said it welcomed the messages in this latest campaign, it highlighted the refusal of some major food companies to sign up to traffic light labelling in June, including “manufacturers behind many of the sugary cereals, sugary drinks and high fat cheeses and butter that we are being told to swap away from”.

Coordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign Malcolm Clark said: “These good messages risk being undermined unless there is real change in what is sold and promoted to us in store.  The supermarkets should be joining in the swapping: permanently replacing promotions on unhealthy products with those for healthier items.

“There is nothing smart about Public Health England partnering with the food industry without expecting more in return.”

Public Health England said £840,000 worth of vouchers would be provided by commercial partners for those who sign up to the campaign, including money off sugar free drinks and offers on healthier products at Aldi, Lidl, Asda and The Co-operative Food stores.

Clark added: “Change4Life vouchers have not always been good value, with cheaper healthier own brand alternatives available without the vouchers in previous years. We hope this is one thing Change4Life has improved upon this year.”

According to a recent YouGov poll, more than three quarters (76%) of parents with children aged under 18 are concerned about the amount of sugar in their children’s diets and over two thirds (68%) are concerned about the amount of fat.

However, the survey found that once they understood how much sugar and fat they could eliminate by choosing healthier options, around 40 % of parents were likely to switch to sugar-free soft drinks, milk or water, reduced fat cheese, low fat butter or spread, low sugar cereal, or low fat milk.

Related topics: Sugar, salt and fat reduction, Marketing, Legislation, Cereals and bakery preparations, Dairy-based ingredients, Fats & oils