To perform well in this category, a company should:
Nestlé and FrieslandCampina rank first and second in Category A respectively, with the most comprehensive nutrition strategies, management systems, and reporting among the companies assessed. Since the Global Index 2018, where 22 of the current 25 companies were assessed, Kraft Heinz shows the most significant improvement after adopting global nutrition guidelines in 2020, and increased their score from 0.5 to 3.4. In terms of ranking, Grupo Bimbo shows the biggest improvement in this category, going up seven positions to rank in 5th place and moving from a score of 4.9 (2018) to a score of 6.4 (2021). This is partly due to the way the company includes nutrition challenges in its risk assessments and acquisition decisions, and because Grupo Bimbo’s nutrition strategy is supported by its board and regularly audited.
The Global Index 2021 assesses whether companies commit to improving the healthiness of products for the general population, and to addressing the needs of groups experiencing, or at higher risk of, malnutrition than the general population. These groups are referred to in this report as ‘priority populations’. Public authorities’ definition of these risks and the groups affected should guide company commitments in the markets they are present in, and as relevant to their product portfolios and activities.Global Index 2021 Methodology
To assess the extent to which companies’ corporate strategies include specific commitments to improving nutrition, ATNI considers that companies should recognize the targets set out in the WHO Global Action Plan (GAP) for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases NCDs 2013-2020. Likewise, they are expected to commit to delivering on the most nutrition-specific Sustainable Development Goals (notably SDGs 2, 3 and 12).
The main focus of this WHO Global Action Plan was on four types of NCDs — cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes — that make the largest contribution to morbidity and mortality due to NCDs, and on four shared behavioral risk factors — tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and harmful use of alcohol. In 2019, the GAP timeframe was extended to 2030 to prevent and control NCDs and also address mental health and environmental pollution (5×5 agenda, adding air pollution as fifth risk factor).
Box 1. How are nutrition strategy, management systems and reporting relevant to the COVID-19 crisis?
In the Global Index 2018, company actions to prevent and address undernutrition among at-risk populations in low-income countries were assessed through a specific set of ‘Undernutrition’ indicators. These were not applied to companies that derived less than five percent of their F&B revenues from non-OECD markets. In the Global Index 2021 methodology, companies’ commitment to specifically address the needs and key nutritional priorities of specific population groups at risk of malnutrition is assessed for low-, middle- and high-income countries alike. As a result, the Global Index 2021 shows if and how a company addresses all forms of malnutrition based on their market presence and the specific nutrition issues in those markets.
The underlying structure of the methodology for the Global Index 2021 has not been changed, but several refinements have been made since the previous iterations of the Global Index to streamline it. These include:
More details about the changes in the methodology can be found in the methodology section of this Index.Global Index 2021 Methodology
For stronger and more accelerated efforts to improve consumers’ nutrition, leading food and beverage manufacturers are encouraged to:
To improve transparency about how they are improving consumers’ access to nutrition, companies are encouraged to:
In its Wellbeing Milestones document, published in 2020, Kellogg sets out its approach to address malnutrition and the needs of priority populations (especially women of childbearing age and children in LMICs). The company places a strong emphasis on addressing micronutrient deficiencies via its commercial strategy through targeted reformulation and fortification. An improvement from 2018, the company provided evidence of conducting global, regional, local, and segment-specific assessments of market needs, including using data from public health authorities.
Meiji has a significant focus on addressing low levels of protein consumption in Japan, especially among the elderly and women, which is an issue identified in surveys by the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare. In 2020 the company launched the Meiji TANPACT product range, which includes beverages, jellies, yogurts, cheese, chocolate, ice cream, frozen foods, soups, and home delivery beverages with added protein and vitamins.
FrieslandCampina’s programme, ‘Broadening access to nutrition’, aims to make foods and beneficial nutrients available to more people, especially those with lower incomes. Seanuts II and ANI research projects provide the company with information for products and fortifications needed to help combat undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies in children up to 12 years old and women of reproductive age in markets in Asia and Africa. The studies’ results are published in the public domain.
Coca-Cola established Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles(SAGP). In its 2019 Business & Sustainability report, the company states: “We ask our suppliers to demonstrate they are meeting the SAGP criteria by using global sustainable agriculture standards and assurance schemes. The Farm Sustainability Assessment of the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform, the Bonsucro sustainable sugarcane standard and Rainforest Alliance certifications are some of the leading standards we support.” The Principles include harvest and post-harvest handling, such as using correct harvesting techniques to reduce physical damage and loss.
The company’s annual Creating Shared Value report is prepared in accordance with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards, and the company discloses its mapping of material GRI indicators against the SDGs. This contributes to better accountability, as stakeholders can easily identify both topics of interest and topics they might miss. Overall, Nestlé’s transparent reporting shows where it has had success in implementing its nutrition-related commitments, and where more progress is needed. The company is expected to release new commitments in 2021.
The Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) in the US has explored the eating patterns and nutritional intake of children during their first four years of life. This initiative was expanded in 2014 to include older children (the Kids Nutrition and Health Study, KNHS) and additional countries; and now comprises China, Mexico, Russia, Australia, the US and the Philippines. The studies provide a comprehensive picture of children’s dietary intakes, including nutrients, timing and types of foods consumed at each meal, and feeding practices. In 2019, Nestlé started research projects in Brazil, the United Arab Emirates and Nigeria. Since 2014, FITS and KNHS have resulted in more than 60 papers in collaboration with research partners around the world.
Following the completion of the 10 year-long Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP), the company launched its new nutrition strategy ‘Future Foods Initiative’ in 2020 and published the report ‘Transforming the world’s food system for a more nutritious, more sustainable, and fairer future’. This outlines four ways the company attempts to lead change: 1) providing nutritious foods and balanced diets; 2) making plant-based choices available for all; 3) reducing food waste; and 4) producing food that is fair and doesn’t cost the earth.
Unilever states its intention to “continue efforts on removal of regulatory hurdles to fortifying products with key micronutrients to help eradicate deficiencies.” This is a governance best practice, as the company outlines where and how it aims to contribute to nutrition.
PwC is commissioned to verify selected indicators in its USLP. For nutrition, the proportion of company’s products that meet its nutrient profiling model ‘Highest Nutritional Standards’ (HNS) is verified, i.e. “61% of portfolio in 2020.” The company’s Board’s Audit Committee oversees the USLP assurance programme.
Since 2018, the quality of companies’ nutrition strategies has increased notably: from 4.4 to 5.2 out of 10. On average, companies demonstrate commitments to greater integration of nutrition factors into core business considerations.
Nestlé maintains its first position in the ranking for A1 from 2018 with a score of 9.7 out of 10, followed by FrieslandCampina (9.1). Both companies make a strategic commitment to grow through a focus on nutrition, and formally set out how they address malnutrition through their commercial strategies. Both companies state they consider nutrition trends when making acquisitions, and that nutrition gets specific attention in their risk assessments. Unilever ranks third with a score of 8.8 and, in 2020, the company launched its new strategy, ‘Future Foods Initiative’, in which it outlines its commitments to produce nutritious and sustainable foods.
Of the 25 Index companies, Meiji (with new commitments to deliver more healthy products and increasing its focus on protein deficiencies in women and the elderly in Japan) and Grupo Bimbo (through stronger focus on nutrition management) improved their scores the most in this Criterion – by more than 3.5 points. However, 13 companies do not show any commitments to address the needs of groups at risk of malnutrition with affordable healthy products.
In general, most companies (23 of the 25) commit to placing a strategic focus on nutrition and health, and to delivering more healthy products – articulated either through their mission statement, a strategic commitment to grow through health and nutrition, or both. In 2018, BRF, Ferrero, Kraft Heinz, Lactalis and Tingyi showed very limited or no evidence of having a relevant nutrition strategy in place, according to ATNI methodology. These companies were encouraged to initiate a process of developing a formal global nutrition strategy, and this 2021 Index shows they all have done so; with BRF, Kraft Heinz and Ferrero making most progress.
The majority of companies (23) state a commitment to deliver more healthy foods – yet only 12 commit to addressing the specific needs of priority populations through providing healthy and affordable products, and only nine commit to doing so on a global basis. Of the 25 companies assessed, 12 identify priority populations in the markets in which they operate, based on priorities defined by relevant health and/or social care authorities.
In the Global Index 2018, 17 companies recognized they have a role to play in tackling global nutrition challenges. For the 2021 Index, ATNI raised the bar: Companies were asked how they intended to tackle those issues, as described in their formal commercial strategies. Eighteen companies formally set out how they intend to address malnutrition through their commercial strategy to some extent (see table 1), yet only nine companies do so comprehensively (i.e. covering all forms of malnutrition).
In 2018, 12 of the assessed companies acknowledged their role in tackling nutrition challenges, referring to the WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs. In 2021, Ajinomoto, Campbell and Kraft Heinz also publicly recognized the targets set out in the Global Action Plan. Eleven companies in 2018 also mentioned their role to contributing to nutrition-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2 and 3 – and ATNI celebrates that most of the companies assessed (22) in the Global Index 2021 publicly commit to help delivering nutrition-specific SDGs (18 of these 22 companies cover three SDGs with specific nutrition targets: Goal 2: Zero Hunger, Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, and Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns).
Table 2 highlights important elements of companies’ performance in integrating nutrition in their decision-making processes. 21 of the companies conduct a nutrition-related business risk assessment (e.g., including consumer preference development versus healthy foods, food regulation issues, etc.) at least every two years (although only nine do so in an extensive manner).
Furthermore, 15 companies (a 50 percent increase from 2018) stated that nutrition was a factor in the company’s decisions about acquisitions, disposals and forming joint ventures (JV) or other partnerships in the last three years. This indicates these companies have genuinely embedded a commitment to nutrition into their core business strategy and practices.
In the last three years, 12 companies conducted a strategic review of commercial opportunities available in addressing the specific needs of priority populations (e.g., by reviewing guidance by public health authorities on needs for food fortification with micronutrients). However, only three (Kellogg, Nestlé and FrieslandCampina) did so comprehensively, taking into account company-internal strategies (e.g., portfolio, distribution, innovation strategy) and market research, and had them reviewed at board level. Additionally, 14 companies did market research to assess unmet needs of priority populations.
Twelve companies have a strategic and well-structured commercial approach to making products healthier and addressing obesity and nutrition-related NCD’s. Yet, only eight have an equivalent approach to address unmet nutrition-related needs of priority populations, which includes undernutrition challenges, across the markets in which they are active.
To improve and accelerate efforts to enhance consumers’ nutrition, leading food and beverage manufacturers are encouraged to:
Since the 2018 Index, only some companies have demonstrated improvements in their nutrition policy and strengthened governance systems to deliver objectives articulated in their nutrition policies. The average score on Criterion A2 decreased from 4.3 to 3.2 out of 10. Nestlé leads the ranking on A2 with a score of 9.8, followed by FrieslandCampina with a score of 6.5, Kellogg with 6.4, and Unilever with 5.9. All of these companies have a comprehensive nutrition policy with clear objectives and board-level oversight.
Fifteen of the 25 companies assessed have their nutrition strategy/program approved by the board. Where companies position ultimate accountability for implementing their nutrition strategies is indicative of the priority granted to achieving results. Table 3 shows, 20 companies report they have generally assigned accountability for implementing the company’s nutrition strategy and programs, and 13 companies assign accountability specifically to the CEO or other senior executive.
Only three companies (Mondelez, Nestlé and FrieslandCampina) link CEO remuneration to performance on nutrition objectives specifically. Only three companies (PepsiCo, Kellogg and Nestlé) publicly disclose the compensation arrangements related to implementing the company’s nutrition strategy and/or program.
Only six companies have incorporated their strategy to address undernutrition/micronutrient deficiencies in the accountability arrangement for implementing the company’s nutrition strategy. Some companies are doing this at the executive level (Unilever, Grupo Bimbo, Nestlé and FrieslandCampina) and others at a lower level (Kellogg and Danone). Similarly, only three companies (Grupo Bimbo, Nestlé and FrieslandCampina) incorporate affordability and availability of healthy products in this accountability arrangement, at the executive level.
Six of the assessed companies conduct a standard internal audit and eight companies conduct annual management reviews that cover nutrition issues. Important to highlight in this 2021 Index is that Meiji indicated that the company’s nutrition strategy is subject to an annual internal audit, and Kraft Heinz shared evidence of having an annual management review in place. Grupo Bimbo, Nestlé and FrieslandCampina are the only three companies for whom the implementation of the nutrition strategy is approved at board level, is subject to a standard annual internal audit, and is subject to an annual management review.
A new element of the 2021 Index is consideration of the actions taken by companies to prevent FLW. Apart from the obvious environmental benefits, minimizing FLW substantially contributes to increasing access to food. Eighteen companies include FLW tracking and prevention tools in their management systems and, although all tools show very similar and positive results, value stream mapping appears to be the most popular choice. This entails locating food loss hotspots in key commodities in the upstream supply chain of companies, and then working with farmers to design and implement measures to prevent or curb these.
To improve and accelerate efforts towards robust nutrition governance and management systems, global food and beverage manufacturers are encouraged to:
In terms of reporting, most companies (24) publish formal, regular reports on their overall approach to tackling nutrition issues. This is an encouraging increase from the 18 that did so in 2018, and shows that companies are aware of the need to be more transparent and accountable on this issue.
Three-quarters of the companies (20) refer to preventing and tackling obesity and diet-related diseases to some extent, although fewer companies (13) report on undernutrition and/or micronutrient deficiencies to some extent. Only 16 companies’ reporting covers global operations, and only 11 of these make specific reference to particular major markets in their reports.
Finally, these reports are subject to independent external review for only 10 companies. In 2018, this was the case for Campbell, Danone, Ferrero, Nestlé and Unilever, and in 2021 Ajinomoto, BRF, Coca-Cola, FrieslandCampina and PepsiCo joined this group.
To improve transparency about how they are improving consumers’ access to nutrition, global food and beverage manufacturers assessed for this Index are encouraged to: