Welcome to a new year! I am sure everyone is ready for new beginnings in 2022 and I wish you all the best for your plans this year!
Have you had a chance to read through the new Australian Ad Standards’ Food & Beverage Code? If not, this might be one to add to your new year’s list of things to do. The new Standards were published in November 2021.
The code has some useful, and important, definitions and are aligned with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code that all food and beverage marketers will need to be aware of. Some important changes I wanted to highlight include:
- Adding social media (e.g., Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Tik Tok, etc) to the types of advertising that are covered by the Ad Standards
- Not targeting children with “Occasional Food or Beverage products”
- Using the same ‘Health Claims’ definition found in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards (FSANZ) Code.
It is recognised that social media has become ‘mainstream’ and thus the need to include it as a recognised form of advertising. For some, social media is now the main source of advertising and consumer viewership so the new Code is very important to consider.
The rise of social media influencers and the need to disclose advertising affiliations is another area of growing consumer complaints. Why is this important? Well, failure to disclose, for example, commissions, sponsorships and content that is an ad but presents as not an ad, could be determined to be false and misleading information under Australian Consumer Law. Now there’s a space that you do not want to be in!
Did you know…The Australian Influencer Marketing Council (AiMCo) has developed an Influencer Marketing Code of Practice to assist influencers and their clients to understand this emerging area of advertising and how to avoid being on the wrong side of the law. The Code of Practice is a useful and handy resource to have a read of and if you do use influencers, check if they are aware of and use the Code as a first step in determining if your business relationship with them presents any risks. AiMCo even has a great Ad Disclosure Cheat Sheet you can use!
Advertising to Children
Marketing to children is always on the radar for food and beverage products. Pester power is indeed powerful. The Code specifies that only ‘healthy’ foods can be marketed to children but beware! Healthy products (meet the FSANZ Nutrient Profiling Score Criterion) can still be determined to be deceiving under Australian Consumer Law!
How can that be? Heinz was found to have made misleading nutrition health representations under Australian Consumer Law despite the general level claims being compliant with the FSANZ Food Standards Code requirements based on the sugar content. Sugar content, whether the food is advertised as equivalent to whole foods could be an issue, for example, despite the food meeting the healthy food criteria in the Food Standards Code for health claims.
If children are your product’s target market – be sure that you understand how the Standards apply and any risks that might present themselves.
Health claims continue their meteoric rise in food and beverage marketing and labelling in part due to the COVID-19 and increased health news being front page reading for consumers.
Did you know… Not only does your food need to meet the FSANZ Food Standards healthy food criteria to make health claims but these requirements need to be met on all advertising platforms? If you have applied the Standards to labelling but not websites, Facebook and Instagram, for instance, you may be contravening the Ad Standards, Food Standards and Australian Consumer Law!
What are the risks here?
Besides the obvious risk of litigation in more serious cases, there is the very real risk that advertising campaigns may need to be shelved or products need to be pulled from shelves due to mislabelling (regulatory action). There is also the risk to product brand reputation if consumer trust is damaged which all affect sales and ultimately profit. Some real ‘food for thought’ and incentive to look at the detail from the start of your marketing journey.
Do you have food labelling questions or concerns? Food Envy Labelling Services discuss with you your labelling requirements and explore health messaging that will help you achieve your target market goals. Contact Michelle today to discuss your food product and labelling needs.