From now on, discounter Lidl will no longer advertise unhealthy foods – such as over-sugared yogurts or drinks or chocolate – aimed at children. The packaging of its own brands will also be changed. Exceptions are to be made for promotional items at Christmas, Easter, or Halloween. So advertising for chocolate Easter bunnies is still okay for Lidl.
With stickers, collectible figurines, and eye-catching packaging, manufacturers show that their product is particularly suitable for children. However, numerous products with a children’s look are also often characterized by the fact that they contain plenty of sugar, fat, and additives, according to the German Federation of Consumer Organizations. The supermarket chain Lidl now wants to stop advertising for such products. “Lidl is thus the first German food retailer to implement a corresponding recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO),” the discounter announced. The German government has also put the issue on the agenda. In the coalition agreement of the “traffic light” coalition, the chapter on nutrition states: “Advertising directed at children for foods with high sugar, fat, and salt content must no longer be allowed in future broadcasts and formats for under 14-year-olds.”
Lidl removes packaging that advertises with visuals aimed at children from its product range
The Schwarz Group company also wants to scrutinize its packaging on this issue. By the end of 2025, Lidl also says it will only sell food from its own brands that meets the WHO criteria for healthy food in packaging that is attractive to children. The packaging would be changed over step by step. “Since malnutrition in childhood increases the risk of nutrition-related diseases in adulthood, promoting healthy foods and refraining from advertising unhealthy foods until the age of 14 is central to health,” tue company says.
There is backing from numerous consumer organizations such as Foodwatch. In 2021, a Foodwatch survey of nearly 300 food products from leading brand-name manufacturers found that 86 percent of products advertised specifically to children contained too much sugar, fat, and/or salt when measured against WHO standards. Since then, little progress has been seen, although companies have made a voluntary self-declaration, Foodwatch says.
Brand-name manufacturers see it differently. Lagnese manufacturer Unilever, when asked by Deutsche Presse-Agentur, stressed that it had already stopped marketing and advertising food and drinks to children under 16, both for traditional media and social media, in April of last year. The food company Mondelez, manufacturer of Milka and other brands, announced that in all its advertising activities in Germany it adhered to its voluntary commitment “not to place any advertising with the aim of reaching children under the age of 14.” Competitor Danone also stressed, “We support regulations in this direction.” Products such as Fruchtzwerge “less sweet” already complied with the WHO’s nutritional criteria, said a company spokeswoman.