Two Mexican states ban junk food sales to children: A taste of things to come?28 Sep 2020
Two Mexican states have moved to ban the sale of junk food to children and a national ban may be on the cards, according to one expert. Could this be a taste of future food policy around the world?
Last month, the Congress of Oaxaca State in Mexico approved a bill to prohibit the sale of products high in salt, fat and sugar to children and minors.
The bill, which amends the state’s law on children and adolescents’ rights, prohibits the distribution, sale, donation, or supply to minors of unhealthy food and drink, allowing the sale only to parents or legal guardians. Offenders can be fined and have their businesses closed while repeat offenders risk jail. Less than two weeks later, Tabasco state policymakers voted to bring in the same measure.
The reform was praised by health campaigners as a historic milestone to tackle the problem of childhood overweight and obesity in the country, which has been declared a national epidemic.
Analyst view: A national ban could be on the cards
According to Eugenia Muinelo, manager of regulatory affairs at Latin American consultancy EAS Strategies based in Buenos Aires, more states could follow suite.
“The recently approved National Strategy for Healthy Diets presented by the national government foresees policies to reduce the consumption of industrialized foods, meaning that banning the sale of ‘junk food’ to children could be on the radar.
“Outside Mexico, there are no examples of such a measure,” she said. “However, other measures to restrict the offer of ‘junk food’ to children, for example, inside schools or areas around educational institutions, have been approved across almost all the Latin American region. Mainly that measure is linked to front-of-pack labelling schemes, where products bearing a front-of-pack [logo] are not allowed to be marketed inside schools.”
“As usual, Latin America [is] leading the discussion on health and nutrition issues,” Muinelo added.
‘Mexico has set the bar’
Details of the bill have yet to be drafted but it has already caught the attention of health campaigners around the world.
Fran Bernhardt is coordinator at the Children’s Food Campaign, a non-profit organisation based in the UK, where one in three children leaving primary school are either overweight or obese.
“We welcome this development,” she said. “It’s hard to comment on detail because we haven’t yet had sight of any yet but it’s brilliant to see Mexico taking strong policy action in this area. They’ve set the bar for tackling child obesity and we hope the UK government takes note.
“A lot of these policies often seem extreme when they are first talked about,” Bernhardt told The Ingredients Network. “The sugar tax got the same reaction when it was first discussed a few years ago but health advocates in many countries have congratulated Mexico for this strong and much needed action.”
Bernhardt said that junk food marketing bans could be seen as “a way in” to a wider ban on the sale of junk food products to children but that this would require more careful analysis.
Mandatory reformulation targets, however, were a useful tool to set a level playing field for all manufacturers in a given category, she added.
“[Food manufacturers] have shown themselves to be incredibly creative at reformulating their products […] so as long as governments set strong, clear lines for all manufacturers to work towards, they don’t need to be concerned.”
‘Lynching the food industry’
Mexican food manufacturers, however, have slammed the Oaxacan and Tabascan measures. Francisco Cervantes, president of the Confederation of the Chambers of Commerce (Concamin), called it “a lynching against the industry [that] generates a black market and does not solve the underlying problem”.
“They call food junk and seek to ban it, instead of thinking about developing policies to educate the population and generate a culture of good food,” Cervantes told El Universal, adding that the measures would negatively impact Mexico’s economy, specifically around one million family-owned convenience stores that sell the products as well as 9.2 million food industry jobs.
Cocoa fruit juice: The next big beverage ingredient?
9 Nov 2020
Cocoa fruit juice has a refreshingly sweet and sour flavour with tropical notes of lychee and peach, making it ideal for premium-positioned drinks, says Ghanaian-Swiss supplier Koa.Read more
Confidence in Europe’s CBD market high despite regulatory barriers
2 Nov 2020
Despite regulatory uncertainty, small start-ups and big businesses alike are confident about Europe’s CBD market. “Local brands [have] a great opportunity to shine,” says one company.Read more
French dairy giant Bel to launch plant-based cheese
22 Oct 2020
French dairy group Bel will launch a plant-based Boursin in the US next year as it develops vegan versions of its core brands, which include Babybel and The Laughing Cow.Read more
Can indoor vertical farming solve the Gulf’s food security challenge?
18 Oct 2020
Recent investments in vertical farms could make Gulf countries less reliant on food imports, say the companies involved.Read more
Brazilian draft law limits food colourings to ‘smallest quantities’ possible
10 Oct 2020
A Brazilian lawmaker is pushing for manufacturers to use the smallest quantities possible of food colourings for health reasons.Read more
China’s self-heating trend heats up ready meal category
21 Sep 2020
Self-heating ready meals are experiencing a boom in China, catering to the country’s ‘lazy economy’, and Mintel estimates its market value will double in coming years.Read more
Spike in counterfeit goods could damage ‘Make in India’ initiative, warns report
14 Sep 2020
Counterfeit products are rising in India and fast-moving consumer goods, including food, is in the top three worst-hit sectors. Greater traceability is needed to safeguard the national ‘Make in India’ initiative, says an industry report.Read more
Finding opportunities in Vietnam’s changing retail landscape
7 Sep 2020
Minimarkets, specialist stores and e-commerce platforms are leading retail growth in Vietnam, providing new opportunities for brands to boost sales, according to Kantar Worldpanel.Read more
Beware of ‘woke washing’: Ethical branding must reflect an ethical business
31 Aug 2020
Spanish chocolate manufacturer Lacasa is under pressure to change the name and logo of its Conguitos brand with a consumer-led petition - but experts warn against empty ‘cause marketing’.Read more
Federal lawsuit challenges US rules on ‘misleading’ GM labelling
24 Aug 2020
The Center for Food Safety has filed a federal lawsuit challenging USDA rules that mean genetic modification (GM) foods are labelled as ‘bioengineered’ – a move it says reduces transparency and causes consumer confusion.Read more
Are you a supplier?
Here's what we can do for you
- Generate quality leads for your business
- Stay visible for 365 days of the year
- Receive product inquiries and respond to meeting requests directly
- Improve company online presence through Search Engine Optimisation