Marketing Ethics in the Food Industry

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‘We are what we eat’. One often hears this statement and it is considered to be true. Food is one the most important concern of people, because it impacts what people are (and particularly their physical appearance) and their health. Food marketing has been in the spotlight since rising obesity rates are threatening industrialised countries’ populations. Obesity rates and broader health concerns (such as diseases due to conservatives or additives) make marketing ethics in the food industry a relevant topic. After reading “Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser (2001) and seeing the film “Super Size Me” by Morgan Spurlock (2006), my interest for marketing ethics in the food industry began to grow. I realised to what extent food marketing can influence consumers’ lifestyles and that food marketers have duties regarding public health. Indeed, marketing foods can potentially have lethal consequences (e.g.: allergies to ingredients not mentioned on labels, cancers due to artificial colouring, obesity and resulting health problems). Marketing ethics in the food industry is about not inflicting harm to consumers. The following issues can be questioned on ethical grounds: How can the promotion of ‘eating more’ be ethically evaluated? Why are marketing efforts of the food industry accused of ‘feeding’ obesity? What are the reasons for companies to target children in their advertisement campaigns? How can companies ethically target children through their marketing efforts?

In the course of my research paper, I would like to demonstrate why it is important that food companies behave ethically. My research objective is to show that ethical marketing in the food industry is a source of success. I will answer the questions: How can ethics in marketing contribute to the success of food companies? What threats may food companies face if their marketing activities are unethical? I would like to come out with means for food marketers to regain the trust of consumers who have...
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