3rd Annual Report on the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative Shows Excellent Compliance

December 17, 2010
child eating healthy food

Arlington, VA - A progress report released today shows that the companies participating in the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) continue to demonstrate excellent compliance in 2009 with their pledges to advertise healthier foods to kids under 12.

The CFBAI progress report was issued by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, which is responsible for program administration and oversight of pledge compliance. The report shows that, through reformulation and innovation, the leading food and beverage manufacturers participating in the CFBAI continue to achieve steady progress in promoting products to kids that are better for them.

“The Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative was intended to be a dynamic program that would encourage participants to raise the bar when marketing foods to kids,” said Elaine Kolish, Vice President of the Council of Better Business Bureaus and Director of the CFBAI. “Our unique self-regulation effort continues to show steady progress with many significant enhancements and tightening of program requirements.” 

As highlighted in the report, the following has been achieved:

  • Increased Participation. Post Foods joined in 2009 and Sara Lee joined as the 17th participant earlier this year.

  • Excellent Pledge Compliance. Pledge compliance in 2009 was excellent. There were only a handful of instances where non-CFBAI approved products appeared in advertising to children. These minor problems were detected and resolved quickly.

  • Expanded Program Scope. An extensive review that CFBAI conducted in 2009 resulted in several significant program changes. CFBAI now requires that participants devote 100 percent of children’s advertising to “better for you” products, up from the original 50 percent requirement. The participants’ commitments now also cover child-directed ads in new and emerging media, such as child-directed interactive games in all formats, mobile media, DVDs of G-rated movies and DVD content primarily directed to kids and word of mouth advertising.

  • Substantial Harmonization of Definition of Advertising primarily Directed to Children under 12. As a result of changes earlier this fall, virtually all participants will be using a threshold no higher than 35 percent children 2-11 in the audience to define child-directed advertising.

Additionally, the report notes the ongoing improvement in the nutritional profile of foods that CFBAI participants advertise to kids. CFBAI’s review of TV advertising directed to kids on 38 hours of children’s programming in 2010 found:

  • > 75 percent of the ads were for products that provided at least 10 percent of the Daily Value of one nutrient that is a shortfall in kids’ diets or a half-serving of a food group to encourage;

  • 32 percent of  the ads included at least a half-serving of vegetables or fruit such as apples or applesauce;

  • 33 percent included milk or yogurt; and

  • 27 percent were for products or meals that provided at least 8 grams of whole grains/50 percent whole grains.

The report also notes that 52 percent of the cereals that participants advertise to kids contain no more than 10 grams of sugar. All of these cereals contain less than 130 calories and provide many essential vitamins and minerals; many contain a half-serving of whole grains and are a good source of Vitamin D.

“The evolution of the cereal category is one illustration of how the CFBAI is helping to drive changes in the kids’ food marketing landscape,” said Kolish. “The sugar content in cereals advertised to kids continues to drop from pre-CFBAI levels of 15 or 16 grams per serving. For example, just last week General Mills announced that, after December 31, all the shipments of cereals it advertises to kids will contain no more than 10 grams of sugar per serving, down from 11 grams last year, and the company remains committed to lowering the sugar content to single digits over time.”

A pdf copy of the progress report is available on CFBAI website.  

Company pledges and up-to-date nutritional and product charts are available here. Stay on top of CFBAI developments and participant news by subscribing to our e-newsletter. Sign up by sending an email to kidsinitiative@council.bbb.org.

For more information or to schedule an interview with Elaine Kolish, BBB vice president and director of the CFBAI, contact Alison Southwick at 703-247-9376.

About the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative
The Council of Better Business Bureaus launched the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative in November 2006 to shift the mix of advertising messaging directed at children to encourage healthier dietary choices and healthier lifestyles. The 17 participants of the CFBAI are Burger King Corp.; Cadbury Adams USA LLC; Campbell Soup Company; The Coca-Cola Company; ConAgra Foods, Inc.; The Dannon Company; General Mills, Inc.; The Hershey Company; Kellogg Company; Kraft Foods Global, Inc.; Mars Snackfoods US, LLC; McDonald’s USA, LLC; Nestlé USA; PepsiCo, Inc.; Post Foods, LLC; Sara Lee Corporation and Unilever United States. For more information about the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative and to view the pledges of the participants visit: http://www.bbb.org/us/children-food-beverage-advertising-initiative