U.S. Spotlight Index

Global Index

India Spotlight Index

Approach to assessing BMS marketing

1. Rationale for developing a new approach to assessing BMS manufacturers

ATNF has strengthened the approach taken in the 2016 Global Index to assess BMS manufacturers’ compliance with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (The Code) and subsequent World Health Assembly (WHA) resolutions compared to that used for the 2013 Global Index. ATNF recognized that the previous approach did not assess companies’ BMS policies, management systems and disclosure, and that a more extensive assessment of companies marketing within selected countries was needed to augment the desk-based analysis of their internal policies and procedures. Many stakeholders also took this view.

ATNF’s principal objectives for developing the new approach were therefore:

  • To produce a rigorous and objective methodology to analyze companies’ BMS marketing policy commitments, management systems and disclosure, in line with the approach taken in the Global Index.
  • To assess the effectiveness of these management systems in controlling actual marketing practices in key markets.
  • To combine these two elements in order to generate a score and rating for BMS manufacturers, in line with ATNI’s established approach to scoring and rating. This enabled the BMS score to be incorporated into food and beverage companies’ overall scores for the Global Index.

The intention is to enable stakeholders to compare for the first time:

i)    The alignment of several major companies’ BMS marketing policies with The Code and subsequent WHA resolutions.

ii)   The markets and products to which companies apply their policies.

ii)   How robust their related management systems are and how consistently the companies apply them in different markets.

iii) The completeness of companies’ disclosure.

iv) The effectiveness of policies and management systems in key markets in ensuring that companies’ marketing of BMS products complies with their policies and/or The Code and local regulations.


2. Approach to developing the 2016 methodology

ATNF aimed to learn from and to align, where possible, existing and emerging approaches to monitoring companies’ BMS marketing practices including those of FTSE4Good, NetCode, IBFAN, Save the Children and UNICEF. During 2014 and 2015, ATNF did extensive research and consulted a wide range of BMS stakeholders on how best to evaluate companies’ performance on BMS marketing.

Stakeholders consulted include:

  • Alive & Thrive
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Children’s Investment Fund Foundation
  • GAIN
  • Helen Keller International
  • PAHO
  • Save the Children
  • World Bank
  • WHO
  • 1000 Days

ATNF also invited the major BMS producers included in the Global Index to provide their comments on the proposed approach, as well as FTSE4Good, PWC (a company that carries out audits for FTSE4Good), Bureau Veritas (a company that carries out audits for some BMS companies), JB Consultancy and the International Association of Food Manufacturers (IFM) which developed the Rules of Responsible Conduct, a self-regulatory code, for its members.

ATNF then presented proposals to the ATNI Expert Group over several months, which helped to shape the final approach.

Improving nutrition for all

The Access to Nutrition Index rates food and beverage manufacturers´ nutrition-related policies, practices and disclosures worldwide on a recurring basis.


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