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Let’s work together on diabetes, says Ackerman

Pick n Pay chairman Gareth Ackerman has called for greater co-operation between the government and producers of consumable goods in a fight against diabetes and obesity.

Ackerman said the two diseases were a cause for concern. He said it was important for all role players to come together to find a solution to the problems.

“Obesity and diabetes are critical health issues in South Africa,” Ackerman said. “What is required is a concerted effort by the government in partnership with the private sector to promote healthy eating and proper nutrition.”

Ackerman’s call came as executives upped their game on a pledge to stop the marketing of foodstuffs deemed unfit for consumption by children.

The Consumer Goods Forum, which will host a meeting in Cape Town in June, had published marketing communications guidelines for children, which member companies and organisations, including about 12 000 members from the Consumer Goods Council of SA, were expected to adhere to.

The guidelines detail measures to regulate and control marketing material for consumable goods and products, to which young children could be exposed.

Global consumer goods company Nestlé said its “internal process for monitoring compliance is in addition to the external third party monitoring taking place within the framework” of industry pledges. This year PwC released a report titled, Total Retail, which accused social media of playing a significant role in consumer behaviour and consumption patterns.

The report said “a high 88 percent of our South African sample of respondents was influenced in some way by social media, compared to 78 percent of respondents globally. Consumers in emerging markets are also far more influenced by social media (92 percent) than those in established countries (66 percent).”

About 23 companies have since signed the Marketing to Children Pledge following the release of the communications and marketing guidelines for children.

Ackerman said children’s diets were influenced by factors such as socio-economic circumstances, culture and education.

“Marketing plays a role and we realise that as retailers, we can make a real contribution to children’s nutrition by encouraging exposure to foods compatible with a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle,” he said.

Pick n Pay had set its eyes on the Nigerian market, with chief executive, Richard Brasher, saying that the group had undertaken research into the country’s retail market.

Strict guidelines

Brasher said: “When you decide to go to a new country, you have to make sure you have the correct partner”, as was the case with Meikles in Zimbabwe.

Africa’s booming population and the momentum of shopping mall expansion is expected to provide opportunities for retailers and consumer goods manufacturers, although they will now have to adhere to strict guidelines aimed at curbing increased consumption of unhealthy goods.

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