Five complainants said they understood the product had high sugar content, and thus challenged whether the advert encouraged a poor diet for kids, since it suggested the product was suitable to give to children for breakfast on a daily basis.
A Nesquik TV advert stated: “You know, kids only grow up once, which is why they pack their days full of the good stuff. So start theirs with a tasty glass of Nesquik at breakfast.
“It has essential vitamins and minerals to help them grow and develop, because all this laughing and playing can be hard work.”
An accompanying animation showed some of the ingredients – ‘Vitamins D, B, C’ and ‘magnesium’ – alongside a glass of Nesquik, made up with milk.
Sugar levels not excessive
Onscreen text during the ad stated: “Enjoy Nesquik as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle”.
Rejecting the five complaints, the ASA said the advert did not state Nesquik should be drunk every day, while nutritional information was apparent on both packaging and brand website.
“We therefore considered that, if a parent wanted to give their child the product every day without exceeding the GDA for sugar, it would be difficult for them to do so provided they exercised caution with regard to the child’s overall sugar intake,” the panel said.
“We did not consider that the level of sugar in the product was so high as to preclude sensible daily consumption…[and] therefore that the ad did not encourage poor nutritional habits in children.”
'Colored spoonful of sugar' - CFC
But Children's Food Campaign (CFC) spokesman, Malcolm Clark, told BeverageDaily.com: "It's the same old Nestle, trotting out its usual arguments to convince an ever-accommodating ASA on the healthiness (or otherwise) of Nesquik and its suitability for children to consume daily. Milk on its own is. But not once you've added the colored spoonful of sugar that is Nesquik."
Nestlé UK told the ASA that Nesquik was positioned as a milkshake mix, made up using 15g per 200ml of semi-skimmed milk, and that per-serving information was more useful to consumers than data about the product in its initial powdered form.
Nesquik was not a ‘high’ sugar product, Nestlé said, while they were unaware of scientific or nutrient profiling information defining a product containing 25% of a child’s GDA for sugars as being ‘high’ in sugar or unable to bear a nutrition or health claim.
‘Better for you’ option?
In a milk-based serving, Nesquik conceded that Nesquik was classified as ‘HFSS’ using UK Food Standards Agency nutrient profiling model used by OFCOM regulating TV advertising to children.
But the firm said this was due to the natural occurrence of saturated fat in cocoa, which took the product across the HFSS threshold, while its sugar content did not.
Moreover, Nestlé said that the new EU Pledge nutrient profiling criteria classified Nesquik with semi-skimmed milk as a ‘better for you’ option in regard to advertising to under 12s.
The firm cited EU Pledge criteria for dairy products: no more than 170 kcal of energy, 2.6g of saturated fat, 300mg of sodium, 13.5g of total sugars per 100ml serving.
With 9.9g total sugar per milk-based serving, Nestle said the product was not high in sugar upon this basis, and also noted positive EFSA health claims under Articles 13.1, 14.1(b) of the 2006 regulation.
The benefits of drinking milk were also well known, Nestlé added, given its hydration benefits (91% water) and high protein content (7g/200ml), while milk was rich in micronutrients.
ASA powder dry on 2012 complaint
Nesquik suit once-daily consumption, Nestlé said, stressing that its ad did not suggest higher levels, but did encourage the drink’s consumption context as part of a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet.
Clarke said that the CFC (which is part of the charity Sustain) complained last year to the ASA about what he said were "similar misleading health and nutrition claims [to those in the TV advert]" on the Nesquik website.
"Even now the ASA adjudication of our complaint is still in draft form and being challenged by Nestlé. The ASA’s complaints procedure prevents anyone from revealing the full details of the case until the adjudication is published," Clarke said.
"All we can say at this stage is that this seems to be another ‘David and Goliath’ case. Nestlé appears to be using its legal and marketing might so that it can continue to make health and nutrition claims about a sugary product that is marketed at younger children," he added.
Nestlé UK declined to reply to Clarke's comments.