Danone, Unilever and Nestlé are doing better than most companies in tackling the problems of obesity and malnutrition – but even these firms have significant room for improvement, according to a new report.
The new Access to Nutrition Index ranks 25 global food companies according to a review of their nutrition-related policies, formulation and delivery of affordable and appropriate products, and positive influence on consumer choice and behaviour. It is the result of a three-year project funded by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.
Out of a possible top score of 10, Danone scored 6.3, Unilever 6.1 and Nestlé 6.0. These three were the only companies to score higher than 5.0 on the ATNI scorecard.
‘Urgent call’ for industry
Chair of the ATNI Independent Advisory Panel Keith Bezanson said: “The Access to Nutrition Index offers companies a comprehensive, independent assessment of how well their practices align with competitors in the food and beverage industry and provides benchmarks against which they can improve their approach to nutrition.”
He said the aim was to promote more objective public debate and to encourage companies to do more to address nutrition.
Executive director of the initiative Inge Kauer called the index “an urgent call to action for food and beverage manufacturers to integrate improved nutrition into their business strategies”.
“It is not only good for public health; it is a business imperative and key to their long-term sustainability,” Kauer said.
The report found that the highest scoring companies had nutrition commitments, policies and measurable targets, and had incentivised senior executives to meet these targets. However, companies did not always measure up to their commitments, and could better leverage their expertise and scale to tackle undernutrition, it said.
A Unilever spokesperson told FoodNavigator via email that the company was pleased with the high ranking, but acknowledged that there was more work to be done.
“We continually work to improve nutrition - it is a critical part of our central business purpose to make a positive social impact through our business, whilst reducing our environmental impact.
“Although we do rank highly we recognise there is more work still to do. That is precisely why we have stretching targets - to double the proportion of our products that meet the highest nutritional standards, based on globally recognised dietary guidelines, by 2020. This will help hundreds of millions of people around the world to achieve a healthier diet.”
The index is set to be published every two years, and can be accessed online here .