KP Snacks under fire for cricket tournament sponsorship

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

©KP Snacks
©KP Snacks

Related tags Snacks Crisps Nuts Obesity Fat Sugar Salt

The owner of a host of iconic snack brands says its partnership with a new cricket tournament will help grow the sport and encourage families to get active. But campaigners reckon the promotion of HFSS food through sport sends the wrong message in light of the nation’s obesity crisis.

A new sports tournament in the UK has been criticised for allowing sponsorship by KP Snacks.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) unveiled a new cricket tournament – the Hundred Tournament – which will begin in July.

The five-week competition will be played between teams from Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham, Birmingham, Cardiff, Southampton and two in London.

Games will be screened live by Sky Sports and the BBC. Each of the eight teams taking part will feature a different KP Snacks brand on their kit, including Hula Hoops, Skips, McCoy’s and Pom-Bear, KP Nuts and Butterkist popcorn.

The tournament promises to have a high profile. It will feature world-class players and massive names from around the world. England men’s and women’s World Cup winning players, including Eoin Morgan, Heather Knight, Ben Stokes, Nat Sciver and Jofra Archer, have all officially been selected for The Hundred. Games will be played at some of the biggest cricket grounds in the country such as Edgbaston, Lord’s, Old Trafford, Headingley, the Oval and Trent Bridge.

‘The move will encourage participation’

Kevin McNair, Marketing Director of KP Snacks, said the partnership aimed to encourage families across the UK to be more active through cricket.

Sanjay Patel, Managing Director of The Hundred, added: “The Hundred’s partnership with KP Snacks will enable us to introduce cricket to more families. Our collaborative goal is to demonstrate the many benefits that playing cricket has and encourage balanced, healthy and active lifestyles. We are looking forward to working together to grow the competition over the next few years.”


‘Shiny shirts resembling crisp packets is inappropriate’

But the Children’s Food Campaign said the sponsorship was highly irresponsible. Co-ordinator Barbara Crowther said: “Quite frankly we’re stumped as to how the English Cricket Board could choose a high fat, high salt snacking brand as an appropriate partner for The Hundred. Instead of promoting a healthy lifestyle, players will now effectively look like vending machines for junk food. Even Ben Stokes would be hard pushed in one game of The Hundred to clock up the 400 runs - or 5 miles - required to run off just 100g of McCoy’s cheese and onion crisps. English Cricket should be using its power in support of efforts to halve child obesity by 2030, not becoming complicit with the marketing spin of the junk food industry.”

Michael Viggars, from the European Healthy Stadia Network, agreed the sponsorship move sent the wrong message. “The promotion of junk food and high-sugar drinks through sport is certainly nothing new,” ​he said. But he added the presence of these brands focuses the spotlight again on the suitability of HFSS products being marketed through sport. “It is predicted that by 2030, 40% of children leaving primary school will be overweight or obese in the UK. Exposure to HFSS product advertising, particularly through sport, helps to normalise regular consumption of these products, contributing to the obesity epidemic.

“At a time when the ECB is desperate to increase interest and participation in the sport, particularly from younger audiences, dressing some of the most recognisable faces in cricket in shiny shirts resembling crisp packets is inappropriate when viewed through a public health lens but also severely diminishes the brands of the newly formed teams in The Hundred – brands the ECB will be desperate to build.”

'We are reformulating; snacks and health are not oxymoronic' 

But KP Sports insisted that snack products can go hand in hand with a fit and healthy lifestyle. ​A spokesperson for KP Snacks told FoodNavigator: "We believe that snacks can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise. We have partnered with The Hundred to help encourage families to get active through cricket. 

"We recognise we have a responsibility to provide people with healthier snacking choices which is why since 2005 we have reduced the salt in Hula Hoops by 42% and in our core McCoy’s flavours by 25%. We have also reformulated existing recipes and introduced new lower salt products such as Unsalted Roasted Peanuts into our KP Nuts range and Naked Tyrrells. Additionally, 29 products in our range are 100 calories or fewer per pack".

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