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The world’s largest food and beverage manufacturers must do more to boost access to nutritious products and use their influence to affect consumer choice and behavior positively, according to the first edition of the recently released global Access to Nutrition Index (ATNI) report and rankings.
The report rates the nutrition-related commitments, performance and disclosure practices of 25 of the world’s biggest food and beverage manufacturers as measured against international guidelines, norms and accepted best practices.
Danone, Unilever and Nestlé are the highest performers in the index, receiving the best scores on both the obesity and undernutrition rankings. Even the top performers have considerable room for improvement, however, with the highest score, that of Danone, just 6.3 on a 10-point scale. In addition, both Danone and Nestlé are reportedly in violation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, which adversely affected their scores. The ATNI recommends that both companies, along with other breast-milk substitute manufacturers, take immediate action to ensure full compliance with the code.
“Obesity and undernutrition affect billions of people and threaten a global health catastrophe,” noted Inge Kauer, executive director of Geneva-based ATNI. “The Access to Nutrition Index is 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 [also] a business imperative and key to their long-term sustainability.”
Funded by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, the three-year ATNI initiative involved an extensive, multi-stakeholder process that saw input from governments, international organizations, civil society, academia and investors at every phase. Further guidance came from an independent, multi-stakeholder advisory panel and a group of nutrition experts. Company research and assessments were conducted by global firm MSCI ESG Research using publicly available documents supplemented by additional information requested from each company.
ATNI evaluated companies on corporate strategy, management and governance related to nutrition; formulation and delivery of appropriate, affordable and accessible products; and positive influence on consumer choice and behavior.