Friday, October 4, 2013

"Breakfast Loves Nutella"

You may love Nutella, but the real question is... does your body love it as much as you do? 

As a self-proclaimed Nutella addict, I have definitely dipped my spoon into many-a-jar of the chocolate-hazelnut spread. I may be a huge fan of this stuff, but I am also well aware of the nutritional content of each tablespoon I indulge in. 

(My kind of breakfast)

Nutella has had a recent surge in popularity, especially amongst children, teenagers, and young adults. While this is a great thing for the company, the manner in which the product is being branded has caused a bit of a stir. About a year ago in the United States, Nutella was hit with a three million dollar lawsuit due to the brand engaging in misleading marketing. The team behind the branding of Nutella was advertising it as being “a healthy part of breakfast”. Words such as “nutritious” and “healthy” were used in television ads, and a nutritionist was quoted on Nutella’s website. While the spread may contain hazelnuts, it still packs on the sugar and fat. In one tablespoon of Nutella, there are 11 grams of sugar. The recommended daily intake of sugar for men is 36 grams, and for women the recommended intake is 20 grams. So, if a women has two tablespoons of Nutella in one sitting (an easy feat to conquer, believe me), she is already over her recommended dose of sugar. When parents who believed Nutella to be healthy eventually discovered what nutrients (or lack thereof) Nutella actually contained, they were enraged. And so came the relentless lawsuits directed at the company.  

(But honestly, what kind of parent would believe that a chocolate spread is HEALTHY?)

Recently, Canada has also been given the Nutella “health wash” treatment. This is the practice of making a product appear “healthier” than it actually is. Take a look at his excerpt from the Nutella Canada website.

Personally, I don’t blame Nutella’s PR team for taking this kind of “health sheen” approach. In Canada, Nutella is not promoted as being “healthy” or “nutritious”. Instead, the label gives an example of an ideal breakfast (which covers most food groups) in which Nutella can be a part of. Nutella on it’s own is not healthy by any means, but just like any other treat, there is no problem in indulging in it every now and then. If you live an active lifestyle and eat a balanced diet, then occasionally eating Nutella won’t do you much harm. Just like any other food item being purchased and eaten, it all comes down to consumer discretion. One cannot place all of their trust into advertising; if a customer wants to know the nutritional facts of a particular item, they should take it upon themselves to research what they’re actually putting into their body. 

The branding of a product plays a major role in how it is received and how much it sells. Nutella has created a cult-like phenomenon; product sales are soaring. But just like any other “junk” food, you cannot blame the company itself for making you unhealthy. When it comes down to it, the customer is the one making the conscious decision to buy and consume the food. You are in control of what you put into your body - brands should not take the blame while promoting their products. False advertising is one thing, and quality advertising is completely different. Companies have to make money somehow, and if playing up the “health sheen” image helps, then by all means, I believe that  companies have the right to promote a product in that light. At the end of the day, a customer decides what they consume; companies are not physically shoving their products down our throats, and we all need to realize that. 

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