A new report released today from the Access to Nutrition Index (ATNI) rates food and beverage manufacturers on their nutrition-related policies, practices, and performance.
The report, Access to Nutrition Index Global Index 2013, seeks to stimulate greater action by the private sector to improve nutrition at a global level. The ATNI Global index rates 25 of the world’s largest food and beverage manufacturers on their nutrition-related commitments, performance and disclosure, with the aim of encouraging them to increase access to nutritious and affordable food and beverage products, as well as to responsibly exercise their influence on consumer choice and behavior.
The ATNI Methodology assesses companies against international guidelines, norms, and accepted good practices, except when such guidance was not found. In such instances, the assessment is based on guidance from a panel of experts on nutrition and the food and beverage industry in addition to recommendations drawn from stakeholder consultations.
- The world’s largest food and beverage manufacturers can do substantially more to improve consumers’ access to nutrition. All companies generally scored low on the ATNI Global Index. Only three companies scored above 5.0 on a 10-point scale, and the majority of companies scored below 3.0.
- Many companies are now taking at least some action to improve access to nutrition. Companies are doing the most in the area of incorporating nutrition into their corporate governance and management systems. The best companies have made clear commitments and adopted detailed policies and measurable targets related to nutrition, allocated responsibility for achieving these targets to senior executives, and created incentive structures for them to do so.
- Danone, Unilever, and Nestlé are the highest-ranking companies by a sizeable margin, but even their scores demonstrate that there is significant room for improvement. The notable exception is Danone and Nestlé’s performance with regard to marketing breast-milk substitutes. Their reported lack of compliance with the International Code of Marketing of breastmilk-substitutes is a significant concern.
- Companies’ practices often do not measure up to their commitments. Broadly, companies’ scores on nutrition strategy and governance were higher than their scores on product formulation, accessibility, and marketing.
- Companies could do more to address undernutrition and at a broader scale. The highest score achieved on the undernutrition ranking was 5.3, with the majority of companies scoring below 2.0. These scores are significantly lower than those on the overall ranking and on the obesity and diet-related chronic diseases ranking.
- Many companies are not very transparent about their nutrition practices. This lack of disclosure limits the ability to understand the full scope of companies’ nutrition-related efforts. In particular, the lowest-ranked companies on the Index do not disclose sufficient information on their policies and practices to evaluate any approaches they may have to nutrition.
In its recommendations ATNI calls for companies to integrate nutrition into their corporate strategies and to demonstrate action to deliver on those priorities; stronger mechanisms to track companies’ performance on targets to improve consumer’s access to nutrition; company policies for food marketing and labeling that meet international standards; increased efforts to address undernutrition; and increased public disclosure of nutrition activities.