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Overall poor industry performance on global food issues

A report ranking multinational companies for their performance in marketing, labelling and nutrition says the world’s biggest food companies are too slow in reacting to the double burdens of obesity and undernutrition.

Companies were put under the microscope for their performance on corporate strategy, management and governance related to nutrition; formulation and delivery of appropriate affordable and accessible products; and having a positive influence on consumer choice and behaviour, through nutrition information, food marketing and labelling.

In the index compiled by Dutch not-for profit organisation Access to Nutrition Foundation, no company scored higher than Unilever’s fairly modest 6.4 out of 10 and Nestlé’s 5.9 –and not a single other food and beverage firm scored above five for overall ranking.

According to ANF executive director Inge Kaur, industry should view the poor results as a new opportunity.

“Given the global reach of their products, food and beverage companies have a critical role to play in helping to tackle the growing global health crisis caused by poor nutrition. While companies have a social responsibility to tackle global nutrition challenges, doing so also presents a business opportunity as consumers worldwide demand healthier foods,” Kaur said.

Nestle scored especially high for governance with 8.7 and was praised by the foundation for extending its previous definition of a child audience to include new media.

Despite this, the report says that the company has failed to address other key issues raised in the 2013 index, such as raising the definition of the age of a child to 16. It also failed to improve its approach to developing independent consumer-orientated healthy eating programs. 

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