Less Junk Food Consumption Means Fewer Junk Food Ads, Study Shows

Candy on sale at the Machaneh Yehudah market. (Gitty Golds)
Candy on sale at Yerushalayim’s Machaneh Yehudah market. (Gitty Golds)

A drop-off in the amount of junk food Israelis eat and an increase in the awareness of the importance of healthy fare is already having an effect, not only on waistlines — but on the media, as food companies cut their advertising budgets in response to lower sales, an industry study shows.

Strauss, the country’s second largest food manufacturer, was traditionally Israel’s largest media advertiser, but the company has cut its advertising budget by 12 percent this year. The cut was announced as part of a “redeployment” by the company to concentrate more on new outlets such as social media, but those channels are generally less expensive as well, allowing the company to cut its advertising budget altogether.

Tnuva and Nestle, both among the biggest food producers in Israel, have cut their advertising budgets by 20 percent and 25 percent respectively. Unilever, which produces food as well as household products, has cut advertising by 20 percent, while Sano, which concentrates on household products, is spending 8 percent less on advertising this year.

Advertisers who increased their budgets this year as compared to last included companies dealing with electronics, furniture, insurance, and cellphone service. The biggest single advertiser this year was Bezeq, which increased expenditures by 49 percent. The 365 Group, owners of the Mashbir department store and the Nu-Pharm chain, increased advertising outlays by 50 percent. And the IDI insurance firm increased advertising by 17 percent.

A study released last week said that Israelis had begun eating healthier in recent years, and the trend is showing up in supermarket sales. In the first half of the year, food sales at markets fell 1.2 percent overall during the first six months of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015, but the biggest drop was in an assortment of processed foods. Among the big losers were hot dogs, sales of which fell 25 percent over a year ago, as well as sandwich meats (salami, bologna and others), which were down 17 percent over the same period, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Other notable reductions were in cuts of beef for grilling, which was down 11 percent this year over sales in the January-June period last year. Sugar, too, lost ground, with 12 percent less of the white stuff sold. With the drop in sales of processed meats, there is less of a need for condiments, so ketchup sales, too, fell by 9 percent this year compared to last. The slowdown in processed meat sales, economists said, had dealt a major blow to companies in the industry — especially to processed food giant Zoglobek, which saw sales shrink 23 percent during the first half of 2016, compared to the same period in 2015.

By comparison, foods that registered an increase over the previous year included soft cheeses (5 percent, 9 percent, cream cheese), hard cheeses, raw tahini (techina), and canned tuna.

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