Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 737-739)



  Q737 Chairman: Colleagues, can I welcome you to this session of the Committee and particularly our witnesses, we are very pleased to see you here and thank you for your very helpful written evidence. Perhaps you would each like to introduce yourselves to the Committee.

  Mr Cosslett: Thank you, Chairman. My name is Andy Cosslett. I am responsible for Cadbury Schweppes' business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and that includes the 6,000 people we have in the UK where obviously the business was started in 1824. The products we sell are well known, Cadbury Dairy Milk, Crunchie and other sweets nowadays such as Halls Mentholyptus and Jelly Babies and Wine Gums, a wide variety.

  Mr Hilton-Johnson: Good morning. I am Julian Hilton-Johnson. I am Vice President of McDonald's in the UK. We are very pleased to be here. We feel that a sensible debate is long overdue. We are keen to tell you about some of the initiatives that we have and to learn what more we can do.

  Mr Glenn: Martin Glenn. I represent a newly formed business called PepsiCo UK which comprises Walkers, snack foods, so Quaker foods, Tropicana and Pepsi Cola. We employ about five and a half thousand people in the UK. We work in markets that are responsible for about seven per cent of the total calories consumed. We are relatively modest advertisers, as we said in our submission. I would echo the points that Julian just made, we are keen today to try and make a contribution to this important debate.

  Mr Mobsby: Tim Mobsby of the Kellogg's company. I am 25 years in the food industry, of which 20 years have been with Kellogg's. Kellogg's, which is probably well known to everybody in this room, I would be surprised if it was not, has been in the UK for some 80 plus years and is synonymous with the breakfast occasion; if you think of us you think of the breakfast table. We are very pleased to be here and to contribute. It is a huge issue for society, we agree with that, we think the food industry has a role to play and as a company we are keen to, and believe we can, play a role.

  Q738 Chairman: The acoustics in this room are not good and obviously we have got a fairly large audience, so if the witnesses could speak up I would be very grateful. You have all said both in your written evidence and in your opening remarks that you welcome the opportunity to give evidence to this inquiry. Do you feel it is appropriate for an inquiry into obesity to focus specifically on your products?

  Mr Glenn: We think with obesity one has to look at two sides to a very simple equation, calories in and out, you cannot look at calories out on its own. It may be the perception of some members of this Committee that that is what the food industry is doing. We also understand that calories in are an important part of it, but we represent the broad gamut of food types, from breakfast cereals to savoury snacks, to confectionery, to takeaway food. I guess all of us would say that you have to look at diets in total and not the individual food types in a similar way to understand the total issue.

  Mr Mobsby: I think this is a complex issue. In many respects it is a social issue and as such there are lots of constituencies who need to participate and be involved and help formulate solutions. I think the food industry is one of those but it is by no means the only one, there are lots of others and I think we have got an area here where some leadership is probably required and I think we would look to Government to help with providing some of that leadership.

  Mr Hilton-Johnson: I would agree with both those comments.

  Mr Cosslett: The big brands tend to get it in the eye, but the food industry is an enormous industry and we account for a reasonably small percentage of it in total as a group. What we have tried to do in the last six months is to understand a lot more about the issue and what people are doing and hopefully during the next couple of hours we will have a chance to talk about that. I have lived overseas, I have lived in Australia, I have lived in the Far East and the fact that this is a global issue I think is very interesting and in looking at the common trends in those different markets, some of which actually have fairly low consumption of products like ours, I think is an interesting point that we have tried to understand a bit better and again maybe we can touch on a couple of those as we go through.

  Q739 Chairman: The energy in, energy out issue has been raised with us on many occasions. Am I being unfair, having read your evidence, stressing as strongly as I did the need to increase activity levels but not saying a great deal about the need to reduce consumption of energy against food and drinks because you do not seem to say a great deal about that?

   Mr Glenn: I believe in our submission we have given due weight to that. It is important that when you look at the calories in you look at the total diet and I think there is a preconception that it is taken as read, that somehow snacks are not "proper food", they are not part of the diet, whereas the fact of the matter is for most people in today's busy society they are. I think what we tried to show in our submission is that for the last two years Pepsi Cola has taken some pretty important steps to compact the obesity issue because it is in our interest to do so. It is not in our interest to have unhealthy people in society and as individuals we do not want it either. What we tried to stress in our submission was how we are looking at reformulating our core products, we are talking about how to reduce the saturated fats in our Walkers crisp brand for example. The fact is that the majority of the Pepsi that is sold today is in diet form as in no calorie and there is a big corporate programme for PepsiCo in our submission and the first appendix. A large part of the annual report this year from our chairman stated that it is the global goal of PepsiCo to offer more choice in terms of energy dense foods and the like.

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