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.
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.’
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):