Thank you to everyone who is reporting Tesco for a price promotion on Nestlé (SMA) formula. Please keep us updated on what you find in store.

Tesco has once again been found promoting infant formula in breach of the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations (2007). It told Baby Milk Action it is stopping the promotion, but we continue to receive reports and now Tesco has gone quiet (join the Twitter campaign calling for answers at the foot of the page).

Tesco is running prominent price promotions on Nestlé’s SMA infant formula across its stores. The pictures below were submitted to Baby Milk Action or the BFLG monitoring project by supporters monitoring marketing practices around the country.

Tesco can PERMANENTLY reduce the price of formula (indeed, it should do so as it is sold at rip-off prices and customers are also paying the costs of Nestlé’s advertising etc). What it cannot do, is use price reductions or point-of-sale merchandising to promote these products.

Illegal promotion

Illegal promotion

Illegal promotion

This point-of-sale promotion is part of a wider marketing strategy. Nestlé’s formula is overpriced, even with the discount being offered by Tesco.

BFLG is campaigning for manufacturers and distributors to respect the law, stop spending millions on advertising, baby clubs, targeting of health workers etc. If they did so, PERMANENT price reductions could be made. No promotion = Cheaper formula.

Paragraph 23 of the legislation states:

(1) No person shall at any place where any infant formula is sold by retail—
(a) advertise any infant formula;
(b) make any special display of an infant formula designed to promote
(d) promote the sale of an infant formula by means of premiums, special sales, loss-leaders or tie-in sales; or
(e) undertake any other promotional activity to induce the sale of an infant formula.

Tesco ran a ‘big price drop’ promotion across its stores in 2011. Although it broke the law, Trading Standards did not take any legal action, so it is perhaps unsurprising that executives have tried the same strategy once again.

Baby Milk Action is pursuing a complaint with Trading Standards.

It will also raise this with the Department of Health, which is responsible for overseeing the regulations.

Formula marketing has become noticeably more aggressive since Nestlé entered the UK market with its takeover of the SMA brand in 2012. In 2014 the Advertising Standards Authority upheld a Baby Milk Action complaint about a misleading email promotion for the SMA toddler milk sent to members of the ASDA Baby and Toddler Club. Nestlé has relaunched the SMA brand with new packaging, but did not take the opportunity to bring it into line with the regulations, which prohibit cross-promotion of products and state in the Guidance Notes: ‘Paragraph 51. the specific terms ‘infant formula’ and ‘follow-on formula’ should be clearly featured on the packaging, in a font size no smaller than the brand name.’ As the above photos show, Nestlé treats this rule with contempt.

Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, commented:

‘When the authorities fail to act, executives think they can break the law with impunity. We will raise Tesco’s latest flouting of the law with the Department of Health. We will again call for it to end its partnership with retailers such as Tesco, and formula manufacturers such as Nestlé (SMA brand) and Danone (Cow & Gate and Aptamil brands). It works with these companies through its Change 4 Life health promtion campaign. In 2014 thousands of people signed a petiton calling on the Department of Health to end these links as it has a conflict of interest when it is responsible for overseeing the law these companies flout. No action was taken and here we see another promotion that breaks the law. We are reopening the petition.’

Update 13 January 2015 and TWITTER CAMPAIGN

Baby Milk Action contacted Tesco Customer Services on 10 January regarding this promotion, and asked:

If you are once again to claim this was a ‘mistake’, can you provide a transparent response explaining:

* how it came about,

* how high up was the person responsible,

* why it was allowed to happen and

* how you will ensure it does not happen again?

The product in question is Nestlé SMA formula.

* Can you also comment on the involvement of Nestlé executives in this promotion?

Tesco responded on 11 January 2015:

‘We completely understand your concerns. This came to our attention on Thursday afternoon and we took immediate steps to remove the material from stores. This removal process will be completed as soon as possible.’

Baby Milk Action has put the unanswered questions to Tesco again, but it has not replied. We also informed Tesco:

‘We continue to receive reports that the promotion is present in stores. Accordingly, can you explain what the ‘immediate steps’ are you said were taken on Thursday and how you check when they have been implemented?’

Tesco has not answered this question either.

If you are on Twitter, please re-tweet our tweet (click on the text below):

@Tesco Please answer Baby Milk Action’s questions

  • 10 thoughts on “Tesco promoting Nestle SMA infant formula in breach of law – stop ALL promotion and formula could be cheaper PERMANENTLY for parents who use it

    • 10/01/2015 at 6:38 pm

      Boycott Tesco!

    • 10/01/2015 at 8:00 pm

      Typical of Tesco to ignore the law.

    • 10/01/2015 at 8:26 pm

      As usual, Tesco seems to think it can flout the law. Its flagrant disregard of relevant regulations is an abomination. When will the authorities inflict a penal sentence on its chairman and directors and when will we all start boycotting their repulsive stores?

    • 10/01/2015 at 8:59 pm

      I reported this on Tesco’s Facebook and was given the same generic reply as all other posters reporting the same.

      I then received a barrage of abuse about women like me making ff mums guilty etc etc

      • 10/01/2015 at 9:34 pm

        I wonder if this is why they keep breaking the law like this – to generate even more publicity and create opposition to the law. The irony is that even with discounts these products are over-priced. Parents who buy formula pay premium prices to cover the cost of expensive television and mass media advertising, baby clubs targeting parents, events targeting health workers etc. etc. Remember, when companies invite health workers to hotels to wine and dine them and promote their products, it’s not a free lunch: those who use formula are footing the bill. If this promotion was stopped, formula could be far cheaper for parents who use it. The companies are simply ripping parents off and are laughing all the way to the bank when parents come to their defence. It has even been proven in some countries that manufacturers have formed cartels to inflate prices. This is not a breastfeeding v. bottle feeding issue, it is about protecting breastfeeding and protecting babies fed on formula. Fortunately, in calling for laws to be respected we do have support from parents who use formula and want accurate, independent information and realise that no promotion = cheaper formula.

    • 11/01/2015 at 3:38 pm

      Saw same in my local tesco and had a long discussion with store manager who seemed unaware of the laws. He did however remove the signage

    • 11/01/2015 at 6:03 pm

      Interesting, I wonder if this is store specific as in my local Tesco (Ryde, Isle of Wight), it was only stage 2 & 3 being promoted. I double checked because I would have complained if it was stage 1 too.

    • 11/01/2015 at 6:16 pm

      hi, my local big store in Havant also had this on their first milk. I informed the on duty manager and he removed it straight away and said he would follow it up with head office.

    • 11/01/2015 at 7:54 pm

      Do you seriously think a mother who is breastfeeding her baby ever walked into a supermarket, saw formula on offer and thought ‘hmm, cheaper formula – I’ll stop using my free breast milk if it’s on at that price’. Would everyone’s time not be more effectively spent providing support for mothers who want to breastfeed but who are struggling than trying to make life as difficult and expensive as possible for those who have chosen/had to formula feed?

      • 11/01/2015 at 11:05 pm

        Firstly, these promotions break the law. Shouldn’t retailers abide by the law? Secondly, as the article and comment above explains, we are campaigning to make formula CHEAPER, not more expensive. Formula is overpriced, even with promotional discounts such as this. Not only does it have one of the highest markups of products on the supermarket shelves, parents who use formula are paying premiums for the fortunes companies spend on promoting their products, as has already been explained above. When Nestlé runs mass media advertising campaigns, targets parents with baby clubs or throws a promotional event for health workers at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London to encourage them to promote SMA – who pays for it? People who buy formula. Much of this promotion both undermines breastfeeding and misleads parents who use formula – we have won cases proving that claims made in advertising for SMA formula do not stand up to scrutiny. So let’s see the marketing requirements enforced and end to all promotion, including point-of-sale promotion, and formula permanently at a fraction of the current rip-off prices for parents who use it.

    Comments are closed.