To perform well on undernutrition in Category B, companies should:
The average scores for Category B Undernutrition in 2018 and 2016
Almost the same group of companies that commit to addressing undernutrition also commit to increase the volume and/or number of fortified products or products to address micronutrient deficiencies, showing a good level of consistency in their reporting. In 2016, Ajinomoto, Danone, Grupo Bimbo, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever expressed this commitment; in 2018 Arla, Coca-Cola, FrieslandCampina, Kellogg and Mondelez now make this commitment as well. Grupo Bimbo has not restated its commitment in 2018. To ensure that food fortification delivers clear public health benefits, and is safe and appropriate, clear international guidance is provided in Codex guideline CAC/GL 9-1987 and WHO/FAO guidelines . The number of companies that commit to develop products according to these international guidelines remains very low. Only four of 18 companies, Danone, Mars, Mondelez, Unilever, commit clearly to follow these principles, and only Danone and Mars disclose this commitment publicly. Danone published its comprehensive fortification policy in 2017, containing this commitment.
It is very important that foods that are fortified are healthy and inherently of high quality in addressing undernutrition. Just one third of the companies commit to fortify only products of high underlying quality: Danone, FrieslandCampina, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez and Nestlé. Mars and Mondelez produce a large proportion of energy-dense confectionery products and both express explicit commitments to not fortify such products with essential nutrients. Danone, Mars and Nestlé are the only companies that disclose their commitment.
It is not always necessary to fortify food products with added micronutrients. Micronutrient deficiencies may be addressed as well through ingredients that are naturally high in the micronutrient(s) of public health interest or through (bio) fortified staple foods. Nestlé was the only company in 2016 to commit to seeking to use such ingredients, including fortified staple foods, but in 2018 Danone, FrieslandCampina and Kellogg make this commitment as well.
Twelve companies provided evidence of investments in research or other areas of the business to develop solutions to undernutrition, twice the number that shared such evidence in 2016. See Box 6 for Nestlé’s leading practice example related to biofortification approaches.
Unilever reports an example of governmental research cooperation, with the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) and the Ministry of Health of Vietnam, on the ‘National Strategies for Food Fortification’, a GAIN-funded project with the aim to introduce fortified products to address vitamin A deficiency. In addition, Unilever has implemented an evaluation tool, the ‘Eco Design Tool’, to assess early on in innovation projects the potential impact on healthier products and addressing undernutrition. This is good practice and should include external expert evaluation, for example by soliciting feedback from the company’s formal undernutrition expert panel.
Eleven companies report targeting undernutrition in specific populations by developing products in the last two years, or through funding non-commercial programs, non-confidentially
To be credible and consistent, companies that commit to address undernutrition should also invest in developing and introducing new products, and to increase the volume of products sold or used.
Like Unilever, companies are encouraged to implement a tool or approach to evaluate the effectiveness and appropriateness of new initiatives that aim to address undernutrition early on in the process, ideally soliciting input from external experts. This applies both for commercial and philanthropic initiatives.
All companies that address undernutrition through fortifying products should clearly and unequivocally state that they follow Codex and/or WHO/FAO fortification guidelines, and only fortify products of high underlying quality.
Most companies focus their programs and initiatives on school-age children or children older than two. More well-designed products and initiatives are needed to address undernutrition in women of child-bearing age and children under two.