Nestlé’s score has increased from 5.9 in 2016 to 6.8 out of 10 in 2018. The company also improved its position compared with the 2016 Global Index and now ranks first.
Nestlé leads the 2018 Global Index with above average performance in all categories of the Index. Its overall nutrition governance and management systems are comprehensive, well-structured, transparent and applied globally with a clear accountability structure.
The company has a global Board-approved nutrition strategy. This includes a comprehensive set of 15 nutrition-related targets updated in 2016, which are directly linked to the SDGs.
The company has formalized most of its nutrition-related commitments in global policies, which are to a large extent disclosed publicly.
Since the last Index, Nestlé has updated its policy on marketing to children, which sets an industry leading audience threshold of 25% for children aged 2-12. Furthermore, Nestlé remains one of the few companies to conduct an independent audit, in addition to participating in industry association audits that review the company’s compliance with its policy on marketing to children.
Nestlé has an industry leading global ‘Maternity Protection Policy’ based on the principles of the ILO’s Maternity Protection Convention (C183).
The company further updated and strengthened its labeling standards and has more comprehensive standards and policy relating to engagement with governments and policymakers.
The company’s efforts to tackle undernutrition are delivered through commercial strategies focused on children and women as well as key priority groups, and is extended to developing countries, including high priority countries. It also pursues ‘Creating Shared Value’ program initiatives to promote healthy diets and nutrition education.
Priority areas for improvement
Nestlé reports that a high percentage of sales are generated by products that meet the company’s definition of healthy. The Product Profile, using the Health Star Rating (HSR) system, estimated a much lower percentage. Nestlé should review its NPS to ensure it aligns with internationally recognized systems such as the HSR.
Nestlé ranks thirteenth in the Product Profile assessment with a score of 3.8 out of 10, based on an assessment of its major product categories in nine countries. Nestlé was estimated to derive only 19% of its total sales from healthy products. These findings illustrate that Nestlé has significant scope to improve the healthiness of its portfolio through product reformulation, innovation and/or portfolio changes.
While Nestlé’s policy on marketing to children is considered relatively strong, it does not extend to secondary schools and the approach to marketing in places popular with children could be strenghtened.
Nestlé does not commit to exclusively support programs designed and implemented by third-parties with relevant expertise that provide nutrition education or promote healthy lifestyles among consumers. Nestlé should seek to support unbranded programs to avoid the impression that educational programs are used for marketing purposes.
Nestlé ranks second on the breast-milk substitutes (BMS) marketing sub-ranking. The wording of its policy aligns closely with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (The Code) and subsequent World Health Assembly (WHA) resolutions, although the policy is not applied to all products and in lower-risk countries. In both Thailand and Nigeria, many incidences of non-compliance with The Code were found. The company should re-double its efforts to ensure that it complies with its own policy and extend its commitments so that it complies with The Code in all countries, for all products.
Category A - Governance 12.5%
Category B - Products 25%
Category C - Accessibility 20%
Category D - Marketing 20%
Category E - Workforce 2.5%
Category F - Labeling 15%
Category G - Engagement 5%
Nestlé is the top performer in Category A, with comprehensive nutrition governance. This enables the company to effectively put into practice its commitment to help tackle the challenges of increasing obesity, undernutrition and diet-related chronic diseases.
Since 2012, Nestlé has had a series of nutrition-related commitments in place. In the fiscal year 2016, the company conducted an internal review and strengthened these commitments to align them with its 2030 ambitions and the SDGs. These commitments consist of 15 distinct objectives and address topics such as product formulation, undernutrition, encouraging healthy and active lifestyles, product labeling, responsible marketing and stakeholder collaboration.
The company also makes it clear that its commitment to grow through a focus on health and nutrition plays a part in its decisions about mergers and acquisitions.
Nestlé remains very transparent about its nutrition governance. Formal accountability rests with the company’s CEO and the members of Nestlé’s Executive Board, demonstrating a strong organizational commitment to nutrition. To improve further, the company should link remuneration of the CEO and other senior executives directly to performance on nutrition targets (which are currently linked only to broader CSV performance) and publish a commentary about this in the annual compensation report.
Nestlé’s quality of reporting on nutrition themes remains high. In its global ‘Creating Shared Value’ report, the company reports against its 2016 and 2020 objectives, provides an indication of progress compared with the last three fiscal years and clearly links its commitments to specific SDGs. In addition, Nestlé is one of very few companies that have separate reporting for its major markets and where nutrition commentary is subject to independent external review.
Nestlé remains committed to playing a role in addressing undernutrition on a global scale through its commercial activities. The company has a strategy that combines micronutrient fortification and products designed to appeal to low-income consumers, while also being affordable and accessible. This strategy is implemented across a number of higher and lower-risk countries, with oversight delegated to the company’s Nestlé in Society Board, chaired by the CEO. The company does not have a philanthropic strategy.
Like many companies assessed, Nestlé’s commercial undernutrition activities are focused on both higher and lower-priority developing countries, as well as relevant target groups. Nestlé has identified seven priority markets which include higher priority countries. This focus is notably driven by a formal process of market research to assess the commercial need and/or potential for fortified products, with studies conducted in many higher and lower-priority countries. This is a practice not widely demonstrated across assessed companies.
To strengthen its undernutrition strategy, the company is encouraged to work within regional and national frameworks in support of goals set by the international/national nutrition community to address specific fortification needs. Further, the company should extend its formal advisory panel by adding members with a broader range of expertize on preventing and addressing undernutrition. This panel could evaluate new initiatives and the effectiveness of existing ones, as well as review and update the overall strategy.
Similar to the company’s reporting on nutrition broadly, Nestlé’s reporting on its work to tackle undernutrition is extensive, providing a clear commentary on how it aims to prevent and address undernutrition in developing countries.
Nestlé leads the ranking on nutrition in Category B. The company has a commitment to develop, design and launch food and beverages that address the daily nutritional needs and key nutritional gaps of children up to age 12, among other target groups, which leads Nestlé’s activities in product reformulation.
The company’s commitment to product reformulation is also mirrored in its R&D commitments. In the fiscal year 2016, the company articulated a target to spend 64% of its R&D budget on nutritious product development. In addition, the company has a standard in place which requires that all innovations and all children products meet the Nestlé Nutritional Foundation (NF) criteria. As indicated above, considering the Product Profile assessment results, the NF should be reassessed to align with internationally recognized systems.
Nestlé’s reformulation targets cover all food and beverages on a global basis and are based on WHO recommendations. The company has defined targets for negative nutrients - salt/sodium, sugar, trans-fat and saturated fat. However, the company could improve these targets by committing to achieve the NF criteria (or an updated version) by a specific date. Currently, it commits only to reduce negative nutrients by a certain percentage if products do not meet the NF criteria.
Although Nestlé is one of the few companies to articulate a commitment to increase vegetables, fiber-rich grains, pulses, nuts and seeds in its products, the current target is broad and not specific about which products are covered. The company should be more explicit and define quantitative targets that can be verified.
Nestlé could improve its performance by annually publishing consolidated data of new healthy products introduced. The company should also expand its healthy offering per brand, as currently not all brands include at least one healthy option for adults or children.
Nestlé’s NPS calculates a score for the nutritional rating of its products across its global portfolio, assessing levels of energy, fat, added sugars, fiber, sodium and calcium. The system was established by incorporating recommendations from relevant institutes and authorities, including the WHO, and is now published in five peer-reviewed journals. According to these criteria, related to how the NPS was set up, it achieves the maximum healthy multiplier.
The company reports that it generated more than 80% of its 2016 revenues from healthy products. However, the Product Profile research in nine countries worldwide estimated that the company generated only 19% of sales from healthy products (defined as an HSR of 3.5 or more). The difference may be partly due to the fact that HSR does not consider serving size in its calculations, while the company NPS does. Nevertheless, as indicated above, the findings of the Product Profile imply that the company’s specific nutritional thresholds and definition of ‘healthy’ within its NPS need urgent reassessment. The company is urged to revise its metrics for determining sales of healthy products, aligning them to well-verified systems such as HSR.
The company has a strategic and well-structured commercial approach to addressing undernutrition through micronutrient fortification. It reports on its commitments, objectives and progress, and publicly discloses its ‘Fortification Policy’ which guides the company’s activities in this area.
Nestlé’s product formulation activities focused on the undernourished are mostly delivered through its core business. The company formally commits to tackling micronutrient deficiencies in developing countries and sets targets with respect to developing fortified products or the introduction of new fortified products that can be sold at prices affordable for undernourished people. These are consumed widely and regularly and contribute to a healthy diet. For example, in the last two years Nestlé developed Maggi Bouillon Cubes containing iron in Cameroon, Maggi seasoning in the Philippines with iron and powdered seasoning with iron in Brazil.
Nestlé’s 2016 goal was to reach 200 billion micronutrient-fortified servings of foods and beverages annually worldwide, helping to address global micronutrient deficiencies with a special focus on children and women. This goal was achieved. The company also developed 2020 goals - to continue reaching millions of children and families with fortified foods and beverages and to initiative collective action to reduce micronutrient deficiencies in ten countries.
Nestlé is committed to seeking the use of ingredients with higher inherent levels of micronutrients. As part of its commitment to add nutritional value at every stage of the food supply chain, the company is exploring how it can use non-GMO technologies, including marker-assisted breeding, to identify plant varieties with increased nutrient density that can be used as ingredients in products. The base species are inherently high in nutrients (e.g. vegetables). In addition, the company provides examples of working on a supply-chain of biofortified ingredients.
The company lacks a commitment to basing its approach to fortification on Codex standards - Codex CAC/GL 09-1987 - and should commit to applying fortification guidance that reflects international agreement on best practice.
To ensure low-income consumers can access its healthy products, Nestlé has developed its Popularly Positioned Products (PPP) strategy covering both the accessibility and affordability of healthy products. The strategy applies to both developed and developing markets, covers products that are widely consumed such as bouillons, seasonings and noodles which provide affordable nutrition for less affluent consumers.
The PPP approach is codified in formal strategy documents that apply across a range of Nestlé product categories and across global operations, embedding it fully in the business. Accountability has been delegated to a named executive who acts as the initiative’s sponsor – which ATNF considers best-practice.
Even though the PPP strategy covers a number of product categories, the company could expand its scope by covering all product categories in which it offers healthy products. Furthermore, it is recommended that Nestlé should expand the scope of its PPP strategy in developed countries beyond Eastern Europe. This should be done on the basis of analysis of accessibility and affordability of healthy products to low-income populations in developed markets.
Nestlé shared few examples of offering discounts, price promotions or coupons on healthy products at either the same or a greater rate as for less healthy products from developing countries. Similar examples from developed countries have not been provided. As in 2016, the company did not provide information about initiatives dedicated to improving the accessibility of healthier options. For example, special arrangements with distributors regarding how healthy products are distributed. This is an area it should focus on.
The PPP strategy is designed to tackle undernutrition and most products covered by the strategy have been fortified specifically to meet the needs of undernourished consumers.
The company provided many commercial examples of delivering its PPP strategy through improving the affordability and accessibility of fortified products. For example, reducing product sizes in Africa and South-East Asia.
Nestlé commits to providing packs that are well within what consumers can afford every day and available in various formats to ensure affordability. The affordable fortified product range includes fortified Maggi in Central and West Africa and the South Asia region, fortified condiments and bouillon under the Malher brand in Central America, an affordable range of fortified dairy products in South-East Asia (e.g. Philippines), Nestlé Bunyad in Pakistan, Nutri Rindes in Mexico and Cada Dia in Angola.
To improve the accessibility of fortified products, Nestlé has set up the Micro-Distributorship (MD) Program in several lower and higher priority countries. In this program fledgling entrepreneurs personally distribute and sell a wide range of Nestlé products to small stores in densely populated areas that cannot be covered by existing Nestlé distributors.
Compared with 2016, the company was unable to provide relevant PPP objectives related to product pricing and is encouraged to develop and share objectives with respect to making its healthy fortified products affordable.
In terms of responsible marketing to all consumers, Nestlé’s approach is one of the strongest compared to its peers. It scored full marks for its responsible marketing commitments to consumers. The company commits to a comprehensive set of responsible marketing techniques on all media covered by the ATNI methodology. Furthermore, the company is transparent about its commitments - the Nestlé Consumer Communication Principles are published online.
As in 2016, its compliance with this policy is audited by Nestlé’s internal Group Audit function. The company could improve its performance on the Index by appointing an independent external auditor to assess compliance on a regular basis and publish the results of these assessments.
Since 2016 Nestlé has updated its global marketing to children policy. One of the areas of improvement is a broader range of covered media to which the marketing commitments apply and a new, stricter audience threshold of 25% for children aged 2-6 and 6-12, which is an industry-leading practice, compared to an audience threshold of 35% applied in 2016. In terms of commitments to responsible marketing to children, the company should expand them so as not to market at all to children under 12 and develop responsible marketing commitments for children aged 12 and older.
Nestlé remains committed to refraining from advertising in or near primary schools, including through the use of digital marketing. Nestlé is also one of two companies that makes a commitment to restrict its marketing, to some extent, in places popular with children. The company could improve its policy by extending its commitments on marketing to secondary schools and its approach on marketing in places popular with children.
As well as Nestlé’s policy on marketing to children being audited by a third-party through the IFBA and EU Pledge, the company now appoints an independent auditor covering a broad range of media. This is considered best practice. The company’s compliance with the mentioned pledges exceeds 90%. Compliance levels for TV and internet-based media are publicly available, and such disclosure is a leading practice.
The company could also make more specific and clearer commitments to action regarding compliance issues with its marketing policy to children.
Nestlé is one of only a few companies that provided examples of developing and delivering specific marketing strategies designed to reach undernourished populations in developing countries. However, the company lacks a formalized commitment to developing and using such approaches consistently. To strengthen its approach, it should make such a commitment and work with behavioral specialists to ensure its products reach those they are intended for through the most effective marketing strategies.
Nestlé leads the rankings on nutrition criteria for Category E ‘Support for healthy diets and active lifestyles’ showing a strong performance in all three category criteria.
The company offers robust employee health and wellness programs available to all employees and these programs are extended to the families of employees in some markets. Nestlé is one of the few companies that conducts independent evaluations on the health impact of the nutrition, diet and activity elements of its employee health and wellness programs, demonstrating both quantitative and qualitative results from these programs.
The company is encouraged to improve its approach further by supporting employee health and wellness in a number of areas. It should enhance its impact by extending these programs to family members of all employees globally. Reporting publicly on participation targets, health and business impacts and the results of any evaluations commissioned could be strengthened as well.
Nestlé leads its peers in terms of supporting breastfeeding mothers at work. The company’s global policy ’Maternity Protection Policy’ is publicly available. This policy is applicable worldwide and offers a minimum of 14 weeks paid maternity leave, flexible working arrangements and supportive working environments for breastfeeding. In addition, Nestlé is the only company that aligns its policy with the ILO’s Maternity Protection Convention (C183).
One way in which Nestlé could improve and achieve best-practice would be to extend paid maternity leave up to six months or more globally.
Nestlé’s consumer-oriented nutrition education, healthy diet and physical activity programs are global and primarily focused on children. Programs focused on nutrition education/healthy diet are aligned with national dietary guidelines and exclude brand-level sponsorship, but active lifestyle initiatives allow brand-level sponsorship. Therefore, the company is encouraged to broaden the scope of commitment to exclude brand-level sponsorship in active-lifestyle education programs and disclose such commitment.
Currently, Nestlé commits to supporting programs developed and implemented by independent groups in addition to its own programs. The company is encouraged to strengthen its commitment by extending it to exclusively support programs designed and implemented by independent third-parties with relevant expertise and ceasing to use brand-level sponsorship on initiatives it funds. The company should expand the scope of independent evaluations to all educational programs and provide more information about the results publicly.
Nestlé has some consumer-oriented educational programs in the area of undernutrition in a number of higher and lower-priority developing countries such as Philippines, Cameroon, Peru, Vietnam and some other African countries..
For example, in Peru the company developed a program ‘El Plato más Rico del Perú’ to help address child malnutrition. Parents and caregivers are guided to prepare balanced meals and in appropriate portion sizes for children aged 4–12. In Côte d'Ivoire, the company has funded training across Central and West Africa on the importance of good nutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and fortification, balanced diets and culinary hygiene.
The company’s approach to educational programs for the undernourished remains the same as in 2016. As with its consumer-oriented educational programs for nutrition more broadly, the company could strengthen its approach to tackling undernutrition by committing to exclusively support programs designed and implemented by independent third-parties with relevant expertise and providing more comprehensive descriptions of this work.
Since the last Index, Nestlé has updated and strengthened its labeling standards. Nestlé remains committed to providing consumers with nutritional information on back-of-pack (BOP) and front-of-pack (FOP) labels. This global commitment encompasses guidance for consumers expressed in the daily amounts of all key nutrients except trans-fat.
While Nestlé’s FOP labeling provides numeric information on the levels of key nutrients and the percentage intake based on recommended daily values, the company could improve by using interpretive FOP labels. Currently, the company does so for markets where such systems are developed and, in the EU, Nestlé partners with its peers when developing the FOP interpretative format. Similar to all companies, Nestlé should make a commitment to implement FOP interpretative labeling globally, and like all companies, should ensure to not undermine existing local interpretative FOP labeling systems by implementing alternative or additional systems.
Nestlé commits only to placing a health or nutrition claim on a product when it complies with the relevant Codex Alimentarius standards unless national regulation is in place which takes precedence over these standards.
Overall, Nestlé should increase transparency by publishing and reporting publicly how many markets it has implemented its full labeling commitments on all products and by tracking the percentage of SKUs that meet its healthy standard and that carry nutrition content or health claims.
Nestlé received a full score for undernutrition Category F and shows best practice in this area. The Nestlé Policy on Micronutrient Fortification of Food and Beverage Products commits to labeling all products worldwide that have been fortified with micronutrients. The company also has guidelines in place to ensure that fortified products only carry health and nutrition claims when consistent with Codex Alimentarius’ standards in the absence of a national regulatory framework. Nestlé is one of a few companies taking this best practice approach and publicly disclosing its commitments.
Nestlé is one of three companies that has a global commitment to engage with governments and policymakers to support measures to prevent and address obesity and diet-related chronic diseases. Despite having stronger commitments than some of its peers, Nestlé does not make an explicit commitment not to lobby against public health topics.
Nestlé discloses its membership in industry associations and other organizations, its financial support and its lobbying measures to prevent and address obesity and diet-related chronic diseases. By disclosing any potential conflicts of interests, board seats held in these organizations and policy position used in lobbying/governmental engagement, the company would strengthen transparency and accountability on lobbying activities.
Nestlé has a comprehensive and well-structured approach on stakeholder engagement and provides extensive examples such as Nestlé’s annual stakeholder convenings around topics such as SDGs, Nutrition and Health and BMS. These are organized and hosted by external experts.
Nestlé's new policy ‘The Nestlé Policy on Transparent Interactions with Public Authorities’ strengthened the company’s approach and now includes a formal commitment with regards to playing an active and ‘constructive part in support of developing countries’ governments’ efforts to address undernutrition. Despite the commitment, the company did not provide examples to demonstrate having supported developing governments’ efforts to introduce policy or regulations to address undernutrition.
Furthermore, the company could improve reporting on one-to-one discussions with key organizations working on undernutrition to solicit input on its commercial strategy/policy/approach to undernutrition.
Rank 13 / Score 3.8
Average HSR score products (sales-weighted)
Percentage of healthy products (sales-weighted)
Percentage of healthy products suitable to market to children (sales-weighted)
Number of products included in HSR and WHO EURO assessments
Number of countries included in the assessment
Nestle’s average sales-weighted HSR is 1.9 (2.2 unweighted), generating a Product Profile score of 3.8 out of 10, and it ranks thirteenth. Across the nine countries included in the assessment, products from 13 product categories were assessed using the HSR system. Nestlé’s baby food products were not included in this analysis.
19% of its 2016 sales of the products assessed were estimated to meet the healthy threshold (27% of its products by number). The proportion of its 2016 sales of products assessed suitable to market to children was estimated to be 20% (17% of its products by number). The lower sales-weighted HSR scores suggest that its products with lower HSRs accounted for a relatively higher proportion of sales than those with higher HSRs.
Of the nine countries in which Nestlé‘s products were analyzed, it had the highest mean HSR in the U.S. and India – both 2.4, and the lowest average HSR in China of 0.6.
Nestle has the highest proportion of healthy products in Australia, the U.S. and New Zealand (38%, 29% and 27% respectively) with zero products in China being identified as healthy. The highest proportion of products eligible for marketing to children was found in India (30%). None of its products were eligible for marketing to children in South Africa and China. No products were eligible to market to children in a large number of categories (7 out of 13).
In terms of categories, Nestle’s healthiest category on average is ‘Breakfast Cereal’ (HSR of 3.8), followed by ‘Soup’ (3.3), with ‘Sweet Biscuits, Snack Bars and Fruit Snacks’ having the lowest mean HSR of all Nestlé product categories (0.5). The low mean HSR for China is explained by the category rankings, with the only Nestlé products sold in China being those in the lowest-ranked ‘Sweet Biscuits, Snack Bars and Fruit Snacks’ category.
Nestlé ranks first in the Corporate Profile and leads in a number of Index categories including on product reformulation criteria. The company also reports high level of sales generated from products that meet the its healthy criteria. The Product Profile identifies considerably fewer products as healthy than reported by the company. The difference in score and rank between the two elements of the ATNI methodology suggest that while the company has the comprehensive governance structure and well-structured commitments, it should look at how it can strengthen its NPS and metrics to track the number of healthy products and sales generated from these products. In other words, Nestlé needs to demonstrate its commitment to nutrition and health by offering a much healthier product portfolio.
For full details, see the company’s Product Profile scorecard.
Nestlé is one of four Index companies included in the BMS Marketing sub-ranking. Its score is based on two assessments: BMS 1 which assessed the company’s BMS marketing policy commitments, management systems and disclosure and BMS 2 which assessed its marketing practices in Thailand and Nigeria during 2017.
Nestlé ranks second in the BMS sub-ranking with a level of compliance with the ATNI methodology of 45%.
It published a new BMS Marketing policy following the last Index and improved commitments related to collaboration with governments in their efforts to monitor the application of the Code and to BMS-related lobbying. It has also published more information on its management systems. Nevertheless, its policy still does not extend to lower-risk countries nor to growing-up milks. Thus, its overall score is 56% on BMS 1.
To improve, Nestlé could extend its policy to include growing-up milks, and cover all markets. It should revise its policy to ensure it encompasses all of the recommendations of the WHA resolutions (including WHA 58.32 and 69.9), and make sure it has a full set of consistent management mechanisms, such as instructions to staff linked to each of its commitments.
In the two in-country studies of marketing practices, it achieved a level of compliance of only 33% on aggregate, being rated as having a low level of compliance with The Code and local regulations in Thailand, but a high level of compliance in Nigeria.
To bring its marketing practices into line with The Code in Thailand and Nigeria it should ensure that all of its product labels include all necessary information. In Thailand – and in all other markets – Nestlé should particularly take steps to ensure that all online retailers comply with its policy prohibiting point-of-sale promotions. It should also stop donating equipment and materials to healthcare facilities.
As a multi-stakeholder and collaborative project, the findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed in the report may not necessarily reflect the views of all companies, members of the stakeholder groups or the organizations they represent or of the funders of the project. This report is intended to be for informational purposes only and is not intended as promotional material in any respect. This report is not intended to provide accounting, legal or tax advice or investment recommendations. Whilst based on information believed to be reliable, no guarantee can be given that it is accurate or complete.