Nestle says it will commit itself to less nationally focused health promotions on brands like Milo - an instant powdered chocolate milk - as part of a shake up of its New Zealand and Australian operations.
The multinational says it will phase out the use of New Zealand’s Heart Tick logo on the drink brand over the next two to three months ahead of more regional promotion campaigns for the drink. The new schemes are due to begin in New Zealand and Australia later this year.
The Heart Tick designation is awarded to products that comply with specific nutritional criteria outlined by the National Heart Foundation of New Zealand and was granted for use on Milo last year, despite some controversy over the decision.
A spokesperson for the company told DairyReporter.com that Nestle had taken a decision not to renew the Heart Tick licence in New Zealand to better promote the potential health benefits of the product across a number of markets in the region.
The group said that the option to drop the logo had been made on commercial grounds and was not a reaction to some criticisms of allowing Milo to carry the tick. Under the scheme , a manufacturer must pay a share of its profits to the Heart Foundation charity.
“All products with the Heart Tick have to meet strict Heart Foundation criteria,” stated a spokesperson. “Milo continues to meet this criteria and could have continued with the Heart Tick, if Nestle wished to continue with it.”
The company claimed that prior to obtaining the Heart Tick logo, it had successfully promoted Milo as a potentially healthy product for nearly 70 years due to its milk content.
“The health and nutritional benefits of milk consumption by children is well recognised by health authorities,” claimed the group.
“The amount of sugar in the recommended serving instructions of Milo is relatively low at just over 1 teaspoon, more than half of which comes from naturally occurring sugars from the barley and milk powder ingredients of the product.”
In awarding the Heart Tick to the Milo brand last August, the Heart Foundation had itself come under attack from some nutritionists arguing the product should not have been included in the scheme.
Professor Murray Skeaff, who chairs the Heart Foundation's food and nutrition working group said that allowing the tick to be used on a product that had to be served in a specific manner to obtain the accreditation under valued the whole scheme.
“The Pick the Tick programme is trying to get manufacturers to reformulate and produce foods that have less salt, and less energy and less saturated fat, and that's good,” he told the Sunday Star Times newspaper last year. “But in this food product [Milo,] it just doesn't exist."