FGC and member companies submitted on the 2016 review of the Advertising Standards Authority codes of marketing on food and to children.

The new Children and Young People’s Advertising Code is in full effect on 2 October 2017.

NZFGC also signed up to the Healthy Kids Industry Pledge.

Healthy Kids Industry Pledge

The Ministry of Health’s Healthy Kids Industry Pledge commits industry, where appropriate, to the following:

  • consider options for innovation and the reformulation of products to ensure children and their families have easy access to healthier food options
  • continue to enhance labelling to help families make healthy choices for their children, including supporting the Government’s health star ratings (see more later in this article)
  • continue to provide fact-based information to help families make healthy choices for their children (see more later in this article)
  • support responsible marketing, advertising, and sponsorship of foods to children that supports healthy nutrition
  • support the Government’s efforts to address differences in health outcomes for different population groups, particularly Māori and Pacific peoples
  • identify and communicate specific activities that we will undertake within our business, and publicly report on our progress.

Many of these elements continue to be addressed in FGC’s Healthier New Zealanders Initiative and reflected in the ‘Healthy Balance’ website.

Companies that have specifically signed up to the Pledge and to communicating this publicly include:

Responsible marketing, advertising, and sponsorship of foods to children

NZFGC is raising awareness of the Children and Young People’s Advertising Code across members through:

  • promoting Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) training sessions. FGC members comprised over a third of the attendees at the 21 April 2017 Auckland session conducted by the ASA and half the audience at the 19 June 2017 Auckland session.
  • highlighting requirements in articles – items appear regularly in the FGC’s monthly newsletter to members, in FGC columns in FMCG Business magazine, Supermarket News, and in our LinkedIn pages.
  • working with ASA in seminars etc. ASA has spoken twice to members of the FGC’s Health & Regulatory Working Group first during development of the Code in 2016 and then after the Code was finalised in mid-2017.

The Children and Young People’s Advertising Code must be read in conjunction with the ASA’s overarching Advertising Code of Ethics. Other codes of interest include the Code for Comparative Advertising, Code for Advertising Food and Code for People in Advertising. All can be found on the ASA’s website.


On April 30, 2019, the NZ Herald asked for a response to a survey of 33 Wellington children aged 11 to 13 around marketing tactics such as catchy songs or slogans, free toys and competitions and highlighted the use of sports sponsorship in food marketing. When asked what they would do if they were ‘Prime Minister for a day’, many said they would take action to reduce junk food marketing, including removing billboards, providing nutritional information and promoting healthy food. The survey was published in the NZ Medical Journal.

FGC responded:

Speaking to 33 kids can get some interesting opinions, but it’s not a sample to base policy on. It was interesting that the children had the nutrition knowledge to understand the difference between healthful and treat foods. That indicates that nutrition education does get through. Some children talked about making advertising “true” and the provision of nutrition information. We don’t expect them to be aware but, by law, advertising in New Zealand must be truthful and accurate otherwise bodies like the Commerce Commission or Advertising Standards Authority will step in. Nutrition information plus ingredients and other information will be found on packs. There are strict rules about advertising to children which are set out in the ASA Code. Our member companies either have policies in place where they don’t advertise to children at all or they adhere to the strict ASA Code.

The factoid that children see 27 unhealthy food advertisements a day is often repeated, but it’s exaggerated and misleading. Academics counted seeing food wrappers and packaging in school lunchboxes, and biscuit tins in home cupboards as advertising, which inflated the numbers. They’re also counting New World and Countdown grocery price advertising as unhealthy, which most reasonable people can understand are not ads targeting children.

Consumer Goods Forum

The mission of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) is: “Bringing together consumer goods manufacturers and retailers in pursuit of business practices for efficiency and positive change across our industry benefitting shoppers, consumers and the world without impeding competition.”

The CGF has a Health & Wellness Pillar (aimed at “collaborating to empower consumers and employees around the world to make informed decisions and help them to adopt healthier lifestyles”). CGF’s strategic focus is around:

  • Employee Health & Wellness
  • Nutrition & Product Information
  • Marketing Communications to Children
  • Healthier Communities.

A very useful tool for industry is the Implementation Guide for Marketing Communications to Children, which is readily adaptable to New Zealand’s environment.

Global Developments

The work on advertising to children in other key markets for New Zealand can be found at the following:


Canada has the Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children. It also has an industry initiative, the Canadian Children’s Food & Beverage Advertising Initiative, which has 18 companies signed up. There is also the Healthy eating strategy publication and Health Canada’s healthy eating strategy. Health Canada conducted an online public consultation 10 June to 14 August 2017 on restricting marketing to children. A background paper has been produced from this.


There is limited federal involvement. The Federal Trade Commission (Protecting America’s Consumers) has a web page on Food Advertising to Children and Adolescents but the latest information is dated 2012. There is also a Children’s Food & Beverage Advertising Initiative in the United States which has 18 companies signed up, including fast food outlets. For a succinct description of each company’s commitment, check out this pledge page.


The EU Pledge is a voluntary initiative by leading food and beverage companies to change the way they advertise to children. This is a response from industry leaders to calls made by the EU institutions for the food industry to use commercial communications to support parents in making the right diet and lifestyle choices for their children.


A Resolution issued by the National Council of the Rights of the Child and the Adolescent (Conselho Nacional dos Direitos da Criança e do Adolescente, or CONANDA) issued Resolution No. 163 on March 13, 2014, banning ads targeting children. Information is available at http://www.loc.gov/law/foreign-news/article/brazil-new-resolution-bans-advertising-to-children-under-age-12/


Thailand’s Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (Thai Pledge) is a common commitment to responsible food and beverage advertising on TV, radio, print media and third-party internet that includes a shared commitment not to advertise food and beverage products to children under the age of 12 unless the products meet specified nutritional criteria.


Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration imposed restrictions on food advertising and marketing on 1 January 2016. Food companies cannot target advertising at children under the age of 12, or on television between 5 to 9 pm. There is a complete ban on the promotion of toys given out with meals.