In 2013, ATNI was founded as a not-for-profit organisation to improve nutrition around the globe by assessing the private sector and driving it to improve access to nutritious foods, affordably and sustainably. For ten years now ATNI has benchmarked performance across a set of key indicators that have allowed us to engage with food and drink manufacturers in an evidence-based fashion to influence behavioural change.
Here we provide examples of how this engagement and influence have driven, informed and tangible change.
Based on ATNI data for nearly 40,000 products from the world’s largest food and beverage manufacturers, 69% of packaged food and beverage products sold in formal markets do not meet healthy standards. While we have a long way to go to reach our strategic goal of more than half of products measured as healthy by 2030, we have seen the following progress between 2013 and 2022 due to ATNI engagement:
- Thirteen companies strengthened their nutrition policies and management systems.
- Nine F&B manufacturers improved the healthiness of their products in aggregate.
- Two of the largest companies (Unilever and Nestlé) agreed in 2022 to benchmark and publish the healthiness of their portfolios using internationally recognized nutrient profile models.
- Six F&B manufacturers have adopted interpretive labelling schemes.
ATNI has rigorously assessed the nutritional value of the foods (40,000 products to date) and has long called for companies to adopt and disclose a robust scientific and evidence-based nutrient profiling model (NPM). Further, ATNI has continually demanded this is applied to all relevant products and that companies commit to using a government endorsed NPM.
Over the Indexes’ iterations, ATNI noted that more than half of the companies have started defining healthy and adopting nutrient profiling models. After follow-up discussions with ATNI in 2016 and 2018 in 2020, Ajinomoto who did not have any NPM in 2013, developed their own ‘Ajinomoto Group Nutrient Profiling System (ANPS)’ based on the government endorsed HSR model used by ATNI.
Following long-term engagement by ATNI’s Investors on Nutrition and Health, and following a shareholder resolution based on the Global Index 2021 findings coordinated by ShareAction, Unilever benchmarked its own NPM model against internationally recognized models, including HSR. Nestlé quickly followed suit demonstrating how every win multiplies.
To ensure this impact is sustainable and delivered more broadly, ATNI is currently facilitating a sector wide dialogue on alignment and standardization on the use of existing definitions of ‘healthy’ at product level through NPMs.
Regular publication of our Global index has pushed companies to improve their marketing practices. Companies have improved their marketing score from an average of 2.3 in 2013 to 3.5 out of 10 in 2021.
In the Global Index 2021, Arla was the only assessed company to specifically use a definition of ‘child’ as being those aged under 18 (as defined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child), and to set out which aspects of its responsible marketing policy applies to under-18s and which to under-12s.
From 1 January 2023, Unilever stopped marketing and advertising food and beverages to children under the age of 16 years old across both traditional media and social media channels.
Nestlé has announced that by July 2023 the company will prohibit direct advertising of confectionery and ice-cream as well as water-based beverages with added sugars to children below 16 years of age. The company referenced the indexes as instrumental tools in helping to shape responsible marketing practices.
Children’s food environment and the food marketing landscape around the world is dominated by promotions for unhealthy products. Effective marketing restrictions are a powerful tool to safeguard children’s right to a healthier future.
ATNI has assessed FrieslandCampina since our inception in 2013. In 2016, ATNI’s research highlighted that FrieslandCampina made no direct reference to low-income populations in its commitments on access and affordability. 2018 saw the development of FrieslandCampina’s “Broadening Access to Nutrition” strategy which, as ATNI noted, did not include concrete objectives on increased affordability.
ATNI advised the company to create concrete targets to address vulnerable groups, leading to FrieslandCampina adopting a formal policy on affordability and accessibility in 2021. FrieslandCampina established concrete, measurable targets with reference to low-income groups, especially in lower-income countries.
Affordability, specifically of the healthier products throughout markets, is crucial for access to better nutrition/addressing and preventing malnutrition as well as diet related diseases.
Infant nutrition must be everyone’s priority. ATNI is proud to be a leading advocate for good in this vital sector, working with a multitude of stakeholders to drive full compliance with the WHO Code of 1981. Full adoption of the code is still the goal, but ATNI has helped achieve a number of milestones along the way. A few examples are below.
In 2020, eight CSOs and UN agencies put forward a Call to Action inviting all manufacturers of baby food to make a public commitment to and achieve full compliance of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and all its subsequent resolutions by 2030. For the Call to Action, ATNI is recognized as an independent actor responsible for monitoring companies’ progress toward their plans for achieving Code compliance.
In 2020 and 2021 ATNI played an active role in the preparation of the Nutrition for Growth Summit. ATNI’s expertise in BMS-related topics was recognised and acknowledged by the Government of Japan, who requested ATNI to provide guidance on how to assess BMS companies on their compliance to the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes.
Specific company examples
Danone, FrieslandCampina, and Nestlé have continuously engaged with ATNI to understand identified gaps and areas for improvement. All companies have improved their policies over time, covering more provisions of the Code and upholding these commitments to more BMS product types in more markets.
Kraft Heinz published its BMS marketing policy for the first time in 2020 and has been increasingly engaging with ATNI since the 2021 BMS/CF Marketing Index to further understand CF recommendations.
Reckitt has shown significant improvement in its BMS marketing policies and practices in the 2021 BMS/CF Marketing Index. Reckitt published a response to the last Index in which the company’s corrective actions are outlined based on ATNI’s findings, along with the areas the company will work to improve on.
ATNI established the Investors in Nutrition and Health. Institutional investors play a significant role in shaping food companies’ governance, strategy and disclosure and have the power to appoint and dismiss members of the Board.
In May 2020, ATNI’s signatories represented USD 7.5 trillion in assets under management (AUM). To date, 80 investor signatories have signed up to ATNI’s Investor Expectations on Nutrition, Diets and Health representing USD 19.9 trillion in AUM.
Institutional investors play a crucial role in driving food market transformation to deliver healthy food and beverage products. Moving forward, our investors will drive even more actions, supported by ATNI data, analyses.