Industry’s policies packing a punch: New report on nutrition policies fails to credit progress made by beverages companies

In response to the release of a Deakin University report on the nutrition policies of Australia’s food and beverages manufacturers, the Australian Beverages Council has compiled the following statement:

‘The criticism levelled at many of our Members, that their policies and “commitments varied substantially”, is not noteworthy. Individual companies will choose, based on their unique and diverse product offerings and the free and open market in which they operate, how they can offer healthier products to more people,’ said Mr Geoff Parker, Chief Executive Office, Australian Beverages Council.

As such, the Australian Beverages Council and its Members question the lack of product-specific analysis in the report by Deakin University.

‘By excluding specific products and focussing on policies and commitments alone, Deakin University has not accounted for the contribution many healthy products make to our lives,’ said Mr Parker.

Responding to criticism that the industry has not taken obesity seriously, Mr Parker said: ‘The non-alcoholic beverages industry acknowledges that there is a serious problem with obesity in Australia. Strategies have been implemented to address rising obesity, but there is always more that can be done to reduce the burden of disease.’

‘For instance beverage companies have been driving innovation and reformulation across their portfolios, which have seen a fundamental shift away from regular sugar varieties in favour of low and no sugar alternatives. Over the last 15 years, sugar per person from soft drinks has decreased by 26 per cent. Today, three of the top four selling softs are no sugar. It seems like a missed opportunity not to capture these types of insights in a report which looked at what companies are doing to address obesity.’

‘Tackling obesity is a formidable challenge and it requires a multifaceted and multi-stakeholder response,’ added Mr Parker.

Some of the most successful health programs have been developed in tri-partite collaboration between government, public health groups and industry.

Both the highly successful Health Star Rating and the Healthy Food Partnership, the latter of which was cited in Deakin University’s report as an indicator of positive progress in nutritional education, were formed out of open dialogue with key stakeholders, including the non-alcoholic beverages industry.

‘We firmly believe in the importance of industry to self-assess their product portfolios, and the Australian Beverages Council encourages individual companies to do so in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of their operations while improving the health of consumers,’ concluded Mr Parker.

Mr Geoff Parker is available for interview about the report, its findings and the significance of industry voluntarily pursuing policies that aim to improve the health of the Australian community.

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Australian Beverages Council

The Australian Beverages Council is the peak body representing the collective interests of the non-alcoholic beverages industry. We strive to advance the industry as a whole, as well as successfully represent the range of beverages produced by our members. These include carbonated regular and diet soft drinks, energy drinks, sports and isotonic drinks, bottled and packaged waters, fruit juice and fruit drinks, cordials, iced teas, and ready-to-drink coffees.

The unified voice of the Australian Beverages Council offers our members a presence beyond individual representation in order to promote fairness in the standards, regulations, and policies concerning non-alcoholic beverages.

The Australian Beverages Council introduced a dedicated juice division, Fruit Juice Australia (FJA), in 2009 and a dedicated water division, the Australasian Bottled Water Institute (ABWI), in 2011. Through these, our organisation, and its relevance and impact continue to grow.

For further information or to speak with Geoff Parker, CEO, Australian Beverages Council:

Shae Courtney

Public Affairs Manager

Australian Beverages Council

T: 02 8313 7760

M: 0420 736 136

E: shae@ausbev.org

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