President and CEO Peter A. Ruzicka comments on Orkla’s efforts to promote better public health.
Board Chairman Stein Erik Hagen will give a talk on 4. June on Orkla’s efforts to promote better public health to Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie and several other actors in the food industry. President and CEO Peter A. Ruzicka will also be present at the meeting. In this connection, we asked him a few questions about our responsibility for public health.
“Does Orkla have a responsibility for the population’s increased obesity problems?
“As one of the Nordic region’s largest suppliers of food and beverages, we definitely have a responsibility. We are assuming this responsibility and will contribute to improving public health in four main ways:
Responsible marketing that particularly protects children and adolescents
Clear product labelling that everyone can understand
Helping to increase the population’s activity level
With regard to healthier innovations, we will pursue a two-pronged strategy. Firstly, we will continue our long-term efforts to reduce sugar, salt and saturated fat in our most popular offerings. Many of our products are eaten by a broad segment of the population, and even seemingly small adjustments in sugar, salt and saturated fat content can have a positive impact on public health.
Secondly, we will innovate by creating new and healthier concepts. A good example of this approach is Stabbur-Makrell, where by means of intensive product development, new technology and new packaging we succeeded in boosting the popularity of an old classic.
“Orkla has a product portfolio that includes a large proportion of chocolate products, snacks, biscuits and frozen pizzas. Is Orkla a credible actor in the field of nutrition and health?
“Precisely the fact that we manufacture products that are eaten by many people gives us an exceptional opportunity to improve public health. As we see it, convincing the population to make major changes in their dietary habits is a challenge. Better results can be achieved by making Norwegians’ popular favourites healthier.”
“Some people think that a more effective way of improving public health would be to stop producing unhealthy products. How do you respond to that?
“We don’t consider it realistic to envisage a society where you can’t enjoy sweets and snacks. To tell the truth, we think that that would be a sad society indeed. Being able to allow yourself pleasant moments is also important for good health, and as long as you eat a varied diet and exercise regularly, there is no reason why you cannot treat yourself to products that contain sugar. We have also decided to expand the declaration of nutrition information on our products to enable consumers to make informed choices in stores.
“The percentage of overweight children is growing. What is Orkla doing to protect this target group?”
“We want, for example, to protect children and adolescents from marketing that may be misleading or may subject them to undue pressure to buy. We therefore choose to direct our sales messages at adults. Parents are the ones who can best determine what their children should eat and drink. Moreover, parents are the ones who do most of the buying.”
“Isn’t Orkla contributing to exacerbate the problems associated with obesity and an unhealthy diet by selling extra large packages of chocolate and confectionery?
“The size of the package is tailored to the use situation and the buying situation. For instance, we sell larger packages in grocery stores than in convenience stores and petrol stations, because people are generally buying for more than just themselves when they shop in a grocery store. So the large packages are intended to meet customers’ needs to be able to share with their family and friends.