CHEF and campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has called for a dedicated vegetable advertising fund to compete with the “relentless” marketing of junk food.
Fearnley-Whittingstall said a fund made up of contributions from the Government, retailers and producers would allow for investment in the advertising of vegetables to create an even playing field with the likes of branded chocolates, fast-food outlets and soft drinks.
He said the shortage of commercial vegetable advertising and its potential influence on healthy food choices “urgently needs addressing”.
Around £296 million is spent on the marketing of confectionery, snacks, soft drinks, fruit and vegetables in the UK each year, but just 5% of that total is spent on promoting vegetables, according to analysts Nielsen.
Fearnley-Whittingstall has joined with the Food Foundation think tank’s Peas Please initiative to launch a campaign for new funding, marking it with the release of a vegetable ad chosen by children from a competition among design agencies and students.
The ad will be displayed in more than 5,000 locations nationwide, including thousands of primary and secondary school canteens across the UK.
Global guidelines recommend eating at least 400g (14oz) of fruit, vegetables or legumes per day, the equivalent of five average servings.
Fearnley-Whittingstall said it was “vital” for families to buy, cook and eat more vegetables.
“But unlike all the junk food and confectionery we are relentlessly sold every day, our delicious vegetables are not ‘owned’ by massive global brands so they don’t get the marketing and advertising clout they deserve,” he said.
“Having a pooled marketing budget from retailers, producers and government is a brilliant idea. It means we can get top agencies behind the marketing of veg, which will drive up demand and boost consumption.”
Food Foundation executive director Anna Taylor said: “There is not just one answer to tackle the nation’s diet crisis.
“We are working with businesses to help make the food environment healthier but advertising plays a vital role. At the moment advertising is skewed towards junk food and we need a more balanced playing field to help support us all, and particularly children, to eat more veg.”
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