Mapping of food industry strategies to influence public health policy, research and practice in South Africa



To identify the corporate political activity (CPA) of food industry actors in South Africa.


We studied the CPA of ten different food actors for the period Jan 2018–April 2019. We used a systematic approach and existing framework to collect and analyse information available in the public domain, including material from the industry, government, academia and civil society.


Food industry actors in South Africa established multiple relationships with various parties in and outside the South African government. These included interactions between large food companies and the Department of Basic Education, the Department of Sport & Recreation, the Department of Health, and the Department of Agriculture. In addition, the food industry-sponsored community programs, with a focus on poverty alleviation and undernutrition. Moreover, food industry actors influenced science were directly involved in policy-making and helped frame the debate on diet and public health in South Africa.


It is crucial that there is increased transparency, disclosure, and awareness of industry strategies, and that mechanisms to address and manage industry influence are strengthened in the country.

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This study was funded by the Bloomberg Philanthropies. The authors are solely responsible for the opinions, hypotheses and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication, and they do not necessarily reflect Bloomberg Philanthropies’s vision.

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Correspondence to Mélissa Mialon.

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This article is part of the special issue “Market-driven forces and Public Health”.

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Mialon, M., Crosbie, E. & Sacks, G. Mapping of food industry strategies to influence public health policy, research and practice in South Africa. Int J Public Health 65, 1027–1036 (2020).

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  • Commercial determinants of health
  • Corporate political activity
  • Food industry
  • Non-communicable diseases