Global Access to Nutrition Index Launched

Global Access to Nutrition Index Launched

12 March 2013

The world’s largest food and beverage manufacturers must do more to increase access to nutritious products and positively exercise their influence on consumer choice and behavior, says the first edition of the global Access to Nutrition Index (ATNI) report and rankings, released today.

The report assesses the nutrition-related commitments, performance and disclosure practices of 25 of the world’s largest food and beverage manufacturers as measured against international guidelines, norms and accepted best practices.

Danone, Unilever and Nestlé are the top performers on the ATNI, receiving the highest scores on both the obesity and undernutrition rankings. But even the top performers have significant room for improvement with the highest score being 6.3 on a 10.0 point scale. In addition, both Danone and Nestlé have been reported to be in violation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, which affected their scores. The ATNI recommends that both companies, along with other breast-milk substitute manufacturers, take immediate action to ensure full compliance with the International Code.

"Obesity and undernutrition affect billions of people and threaten a global health catastrophe. The Access to Nutrition Index is an urgent call to action for food and beverage manufacturers to integrate improved nutrition into their business strategies. It is not only good for public health; it is a business imperative and key to their long-term sustainability," said Inge Kauer, Executive Director of ATNI.

The three-year initiative was funded by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust. Development of ATNI was housed at GAIN and involved an extensive, multi-stakeholder process that included input from governments, international organizations, civil society, academia, and investors at every phase of the process. It was also guided by advice from an independent, multi-stakeholder advisory panel and a group of experts on nutrition. Company research and assessments were conducted by MSCI ESG Research using publicly available documents supplemented by additional information requested from each company.

ATNI evaluated companies on:

  • Corporate strategy, management and governance related to nutrition
  • Formulation and delivery of appropriate, affordable and accessible products
  • Positive influence on consumer choice and behavior

"The Access to Nutrition Index offers companies a comprehensive, independent assessment of how well their practices align with competitors in the food and beverage industry and provides benchmarks against which they can improve their approach to nutrition," said Keith Bezanson, chair of the ATNI Independent Advisory Panel. "The aim is to promote a more objective public debate and encourage companies to do more to address nutritional needs of customers."

Thirty-nine investment organizations which collectively manage more than USD 2.6 trillion in assets have signed a statement of support for the Index. The ATNI Investor Statement recognizes health and nutrition as drivers of future growth in the food and beverage sector, and that those manufacturers that are most effective in anticipating and responding to these factors will be better positioned to deliver superior and more sustained financial performance.

Key findings include:

  • The highest scoring companies have clear commitments, detailed policies and measurable targets related to nutrition. They have also charged senior executives with achieving these targets and provided incentives for them to do so.
  • Companies’ practices often do not measure up to their commitments. Companies are missing key opportunities to implement their commitments in core business areas such as product formulation, marketing and distribution.
  • Companies are not meaningfully engaged in addressing undernutrition and could better leverage their expertise, skills and scale to help combat this global health challenge.

The report challenges companies to:

  • Develop clear and measurable objectives and targets to improve nutrition. This is critical to ensuring that nutrition considerations become central to companies’ core business activities such as product development, pricing, distribution, and marketing.
  • Translate commitments to improve nutrition into action and develop mechanisms to track and monitor progress.
  • Increase public disclosure of nutrition activities. Such disclosure underpins credibility, strengthens any evaluation of their nutrition practices, and heightens accountability.
  • For companies that manufacture breast-milk substitutes, ensure full compliance with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes in all countries.

Later this year, ATNI will also publish three Spotlight Indexes assessing 10 of the largest food and beverage manufacturers operating in India, Mexico and South Africa, respectively. The ATNI Global Index will be published every two years.

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