Functional food firms often stumble on communicating health claims in the public domain, says Leatherhead Food Research as it launches a marketing and claims advisory service.
The consultancy firm has broadened its remit to cover advertising and marketing, assisting food companies assess compliance against advertising codes on a number of issues including health and nutrition claims, evidence for substantiation and comparative advertising. The Marketing and Claims service covers broadcast and non-broadcast media including TV, radio, print, online and social.
Leatherhead had initially launched the service in the UK, but would roll out further as it developed, said Alice Cadman, head of business development and marketing at Leatherhead Food Research.
Cadman told NutraIngredients the service had been developed in response to an industry need.
“It’s very clear there are some messages out there which are causing perhaps an unnecessary amount of resource to resolve,” she said.
“It’s really capturing everything that a marketer could use a medium of communication and make sure they’re not falling foul.”
Avoiding communication breakdowns and misinterpretation
Cadman said food manufacturers faced huge challenges in ensuring advertising of European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) health and nutrition claims were compliant not only with EFSA regulations, but advertising codes.
“CAP codes [Committee of Advertising Practice] and BCAP codes [UK Code of Broadcast Advertising] have been around for a while, but the interpretation needs to be considered, specifically alongside the EFSA health claims. It’s the missing bit of the jigsaw,” she said.
Problems around health claims advertising often stemmed from communication breakdowns in the development of campaigns, she said.
“What often happens is things happen in different departments and so they’re not necessarily taking on board some of the other regulatory aspects. Ad agencies typically aren’t as well-informed on health claims regulations as experts.”
Some conversations up front would have often been very cost-effective, she added.
Functional foods the target
While the service could be of interest to supplement companies, Cadman said it predominantly targeted functional food firms because that was a market segment that had “more scope for interpretation” of health claims.
Leatherhead’s work with supplement companies tended to relate to claims validation and human intervention studies, she said. “Whereas work with functional food companies related to the totality of what they want to say,” she added.
Leatherhead had started consulting a handful of firms who had gained “enormous value” from the service already, she said.