Nestle considers itself to be a health and wellness company. Nestle Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe explained that the company changed from a “strictly food and beverage company” to a health and wellness company because the “quality of calories matters.”
Letmathe pointed out that life expectancy and calorie intake go together. Looking at history, the more calories people receive the longer they live. However, around the year 2000 a “splitting point” occurred where people began to take in more calories than ever before. He said that if “caloric intake continues to increase, life expectancy will decrease.”
During a two-day forum, Nestle announced three new initiatives in partnership with the UN Office for Partnerships and the Mission of Switzerland to the UN. The initiatives include expanding Healthy Kids Global Program (HKGP), a global nutrition education program for school-age children. Currently the HKGP runs over 30 programs reaching more than 10 million children. The programs are designed for children ages four to sixteen. It will expand to all countries where Nestle operates by the end of 2011.
Nestle CEO, Paul Bulcke said that nutrition problems vary in different world regions. In developing countries malnutrition is the main concern, and in developed countries, it is obesity.
Nestle USA manufactures some of the most popular candy products, including Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, Laffy Taffy, and Nerds. According to a 2008 assessment by the nonprofit group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), 93 percent (113 of 121) of Nestle foods and beverages marketed to children are “of poor nutritional quality.”
Last summer, Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), CSPI, and over 30 health and child advocacy organizations sent letters to Bulcke, urging Nestle to join the self-regulatory Council of Better Business Bureau’s Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to “use advertising to help promote healthy dietary choices and healthy lifestyles among American children.”
Nestle pledged that as of January 1, 2009 all of its advertising directed to children younger than 12 will be for products that meet the initiative’s nutritional guidelines. Nestle also pledged to not advertise its WONKA brand candies to children younger than 12 years old. None of its advertising will be targeted to children younger than six years old.
“Nestl√© USA has shown a serious commitment to promoting healthier foods for kids not only in the types of products they produce-including milk and juice- but also in their willingness to curb advertising candy to children under 12,” said Elaine D. Kolish, Director of the Initiative.
“Nestl√© USA is pleased to participate in the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative and further affirm our commitment to healthier food and beverage choices, ” said Scott Remy, senior vice president, Communications, Nestl√© USA. “This important initiative is also consistent with our global commitment to nutrition and responsible advertising to children. ”