Dubai Chamber supports steps to increase self-regulation in the food and beverage industry
- Mahdi Al Mazim, Director of Member Services at Dubai Chamber
- Saleh Abdulla Lootah, Managing Director of Al Islami and head of the Food & Beverages Manufacturing Business Group
- Christine Greaves, International Food & Beverage Alliance in the GCC
Due to the growing global attention towards responsible marketing, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry hosted a meeting organised by its Food & Beverages Manufacturing Group to encourage industry self-regulation in marketing and advertising food and beverages considered high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) to children.
Obesity and Type II diabetes are on the rise in the GCC. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 60% of deaths in the GCC are caused by non-communicable or lifestyle diseases, while obesity in the region is estimated to be in excess of 30%.
The IFBA started its activities in the GCC region in 2009, advancing the 2004 WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. All companies that are members of IFBA in the GCC have signed a Responsible Marketing and Advertising pledge committing all signatories not to advertise products considered to have HFSS content to children under 12, and only advertise items which meet a specific set of nutrition criteria to children over six.
The marketing and advertising campaigns of companies which have signed the pledge are all monitored by an independent external agency (Accenture) to ensure compliance with the pledge, and last year achieved a 91.1% compliance rate in the GCC region.
Key Issues Discussed
- Members of the Food & Beverage Manufacturing Group heard a presentation from the International Food & Beverage Alliance (IFBA) in the GCC about their pledge to not advertise HFSS products to children under 12.
- IFBA in the GCC members are committed to responsible marketing and took part in the meeting at Dubai Chamber head office as a means to proactively spread awareness among industry peers on the importance of self-regulation in this important area.
- They encouraged local food and beverage manufacturers to sign up to the IFBA pledge and to contribute to tackling childhood obesity and to undertake activities that encourage the public to lead healthier lifestyles.
- Mr. Mahdi Al Mazim opened the meeting, saying: “This is an important topic that hits home to all of us as members of the community, parents and consumers. It is crucial that we hear from experts in the food and beverage industry to get the facts and help build a framework that supports both business and the health of society. Dubai Chamber is pleased to be supporting our members today and helping them address rising trends and issues in their industry.”
- Mr. Lootah praised Dubai Chamber for the support it has provided to the group and the important topic of self-regulation in the food and beverages industry.
Plan of Action
- Mr Lootah stressed the need to work together as an industry on major issues such as self-regulation and responsible marketing. He said, “These are not issues that can be addressed individually, we need a collective effort to ensure success. There are so many different stakeholders at play that we need to ensure we have one voice and the Food and Beverages Manufacturing Business Group is pleased to play a facilitating role and encourage important dialogue for the benefit of the F&B industry."
- Christine Greaves, International Food & Beverage Alliance in the GCC, said: "Currently there are no restrictions on advertising of foods and beverages considered high in fat, sugar and salts to children in the UAE. Yet, we believe that industry must take a proactive role and concrete steps towards self-regulation. We encourage companies in our industry to sign the pledge and to work towards developing programs that encourage healthier lifestyles in support of the national health agenda on this important issue.”