The world’s largest food and beverage companies have made some progress towards improving consumers’ diets but they still have a long way to go if they are to play their full part in tackling the mounting global nutrition crisis, says the latest Access to Nutrition Index.
The leading companies - Unilever, Nestlé and Danone - have done more than the others to integrate nutrition into their business models, to produce healthier products with, for example, lower levels of sugar, salt and fats and higher levels of healthier ingredients, and to ensure affordable pricing and wider distribution of healthier products in emerging markets.
Mars and FrieslandCampina have risen the most on the 2016 Index. Mars rose from 16th to 5th and FrieslandCampina from 19th to 8th from their 2013 positions.
The report recommended that companies help tackle obesity by adopting stronger nutrition strategies and policiesand strengthening food labeling to help consumers identify healthier options, as well as start marketing more responsibly to children.
Brands are also urged to address the serious problem of undernutrition in lower-income countries. As many companies have goals to expand their businesses in emerging economies they must work with governments and civil society to find innovative ways to provide affordable and accessible nutritious foods for poorer people.
Companies producing baby foods were also highlighted and advised to take steps to ensure they were fully compliant with the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (The Code) and subsequent guidelines so they do not negatively impact optimal infant nutrition by undermining breastfeeding.