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December 29, 2022

Commentary: Pulling Back the Veil on Big Food and Soda Marketing

By Ashka Naika, Director of Research and Policy at Corporate Accountability

Global Health Advocacy Incubator’s (GHAI) recently released the report Marketing Exposed: A Global Public Health Threat for Food Policy, which focuses on how ultra-processed food and beverage corporations are using harmful marketing strategies to promote their harmful products.

Marketing Exposed pulls back the veil on specific examples of the junk food and beverage industry’s apparatus for inundating communities across the world with its toxic products. Civil society, public health activists, and policymakers have been sounding the alarm on this issue for decades, recognizing that regulations alone are not enough to change the course of corporate behavior.

GHAI’s report adds vital evidence to the universe of civil society insights on how marketing is not only about overwhelming more culturally rooted, healthful, and far-less resourced communications, but also about buying social license and political access. While corporations like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and PepsiCo continue to resist investor efforts demanding disclosures of corporate political influence across the globe, reports like this can help bolster calls for greater transparency—especially around corporate political activities hindering progress in making the industry more accountable to the people.

As public health costs of ongoing inaction rise precipitously and the exploitation of Big Food and Soda endures, civil society’s focus on and commitment to this issue, as illustrated by the contributions to this report, are indeed valuable and timely.

Corporate Accountability, a nonprofit organization, wages strategic campaigns that compel transnational corporations to stop destroying healthy, human rights, democracy and the planet. To ensure everyone has access to healthy food, and that food production does not come at the expense of workers’ rights, animal welfare, or the environment, Corporate Accountability works to stop food and beverage corporations from profiting at the expense of children’s health and people’s lives and aims to create more sustainable food systems.

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