Marketing in Australia of infant formula
The marketing of infant formula has become increasingly sophisticated and diverse with changes in technology and scientific advances.
In Australia, the scope of the MAIF Agreement is limited to infant formula products (up to 12 months). This limited scope allows for unregulated marketing of Toddler milks and Junior milks, which use identical branding as infant formula products. These marketing practices undermine the intent of the WHO Code and MAIF Agreement.
The MAIF Agreement
The Marketing in Australia of Infant Formulas: Manufacturers and Importers Agreement (MAIF Agreement) was developed in 1992 as part of Australia's response to the WHO Code.
The MAIF agreement outlines obligations of manufacturers and importers of infant formula in Australia in relation to the marketing of these products. The scope of the MAIF Agreement is limited to products for infants (up to 12mths) and is therefore not as strong as the WHO Code.
Making a complaint to the Department of Health
It's important to report any marketing practices that undermine breastfeeding to the Department of Health.
Making a complaint is the only formal way to have concerns about the marketing of infant formula recognised. Find out more about the complaints process
Tips for making complaints
Take hard copy or photographic evidence (if possible) and note the date, time, retail outlet etc. Then report your concerns by letter or email firstly to the company itself and then directly to the Department of Health.
OR tell us and we'll put in a complaint for you!
A lot of the things we report will probably be outside the scope of the MAIF Agreement but it's important we report them anyway as it's our only way to record our concern. Still make complaints. Raise awareness about these practices.
Marketing practices with the potential to undermine breastfeeding
Look out for some of these marketing practices which have the potential to undermine breastfeeding:
- Care lines and mum's clubs that open up direct communication and marketing to mothers about infant formula
- "brand marketing" - advertising toddler milks that look almost identical to infant and follow-on formulas
- Provision of free samples of infant formula and toddler milk to the public
- Price promotions by retailers
- Labels on tins of infant formula (and toddler milks branded the same) that include nutrition and health claims about the product.
Almost 7 in 10 complaints about the marketing of infant formula were considered ‘out of scope’ of the MAIF Agreement in 2011-12
Are you a parent needing help?
Click here to visit the Australian Breastfeeding Association website for information and support