Somerfield warned over baby milk loyalty scheme

Supermarket chain Somerfield has been urged to stop including baby milk in its loyalty scheme in advance of guidelines on the promotion of baby foods to be published shortly.

The chain is introducing the Premier Points loyalty card into all of its 600 stores, and cardholders can receive discount points for purchases of baby milk and over-the-counter medicines. Somerfield is the only major supermarket to include these two product groups in its loyalty scheme. Rival Safeway withdrew baby milk from its ABC loyalty scheme after its activities were outlined in Marketing Week (September 8 1995).

The Local Authorities Co-ordinating Body on Food & Trading, which is due to publish a report on the promotion of baby milk within the next month, says Somerfield should withdraw baby milk from the scheme. Senior executive officer Les Bailey says: “It shouldn’t be included because it could encourage the purchase of a particular type of product. We are close to finalising guidelines, and it is wise to exclude these products until we have decided.”

Somerfield insists it has taken legal advice and that it is permitted to include both baby milk and medicines in the loyalty scheme.

Pressure group Baby Milk Action argues that breast feeding is the best way to feed babies. A spokeswoman says: “Nothing should be done to induce mothers to buy bottled baby milk. Somerfield is probably breaking the law. Others have been more responsible about that.”

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