The Children’s Food Campaign has said it is “stumped” over the ECB’s decision to allow KP Snacks to sponsor its new 100-ball tournament.
Each team in The Hundred contest will wear shirts featuring a different KP Snacks brand next year, including Skips, Hula Hoops, Butterkist, Pom-Bear and McCoy’s.
KP Snacks said it was “helping to grow cricket and encourage families to get active”, but charities have reacted with dismay.
Vending machines for junk food
Barbara Crowther, co-ordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, said: “Quite frankly we’re stumped as to how the England and Wales Cricket Board could choose a high-fat, high-salt snacking brand as an appropriate partner for The Hundred.
“Instead of promoting a healthy lifestyle, players will now effectively look like vending machines for junk food.
“Even (English cricketer) Ben Stokes would be hard pushed in one game of The Hundred to clock up the 400 runs – or five miles – required to run off just 100g of McCoy’s cheese and onion crisps.
“English cricket should be using its power in support of efforts to halve child obesity by 2030, not becoming complicit with the marketing spin of the junk food industry.”
Centre stage in children’s minds
Caroline Cerny, the alliance lead at the Obesity Health Alliance, also reacted strongly, saying:
“Junk food brands’ sponsorship of popular sporting events is just another way they make sure their unhealthy products take centre stage in children’s minds.
“We know that the relentless exposure to junk food marketing that children today are exposed to influences their food choices and how much they eat.
“Meanwhile, junk food brands benefit from the unhelpful association between their fatty, sugary products and healthy activity, but ultimately it’s children’s health that will pay the price.”
Rich philanthropic organisations to fund its laudable objectives
Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, said Amsterdam had banned sports sponsorship by junk food firms.
“In the UK, we should follow this example,” he said. “The England and Wales Cricket Board could have found any number of rich philanthropic organisations to fund its laudable objectives.
“Sadly, it didn’t, with the result that our children will shortly see their heroes turned into advertising hoardings. It’s quite irresponsible and unbelievably sad.”
Introduce cricket to more families
Kevin McNair, marketing director of KP Snacks, said at the launch of the partnership this month:
“We’re excited to be a part of revealing the designs of the official kits in the next stage of our long-term partnership with The Hundred, which aims to encourage families across the UK to be more active through cricket.”
Sanjay Patel, managing director of The Hundred contest, added: “The Hundred’s partnership with KP Snacks will enable us to introduce cricket to more families.
“Our collaborative goal is to demonstrate the many benefits that playing cricket has and encourage balanced, healthy and active lifestyles.”
A statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board said: “Our goal for cricket is to connect communities and improve lives by inspiring people to discover and share their passion for cricket.
“Across their portfolio of brands, KP has almost unprecedented reach into the lives of all of Britain’s diverse consumers and is keen to work with us to help grow the game of cricket.
“We agree it’s critical to promote this partnership responsibly and we’ll use our own platform and influencers to educate and promote health, activity and balance as a core message.”