Global Index

India Spotlight Index

Global Index 2016

FAQ Global

How should you compare the rankings and scores in 2013 with the results of the 2016 Index?

The methodology has been significantly expanded and strengthened since 2013 to better reflect stakeholders’ expectations. A quarter of all scored questions were new questions and many indicators also required more detailed, specific information or quantitative data. This means that exact one-to-one comparisons of results between 2013 and 2016 are not possible, although general orders of magnitude may still be compared.

When will the next Index be published?

The next global ATNI will be published in April 2018.

Why does the undernutrition methodology focus only on fortified products?

That is not the case. ATNI assessed companies on a broad range of activities that they undertake to improve access to nutrition, both with respect to the products they make and how they exercise their influence on consumer choice and behaviour. Companies undertake additional activities that are specific to addressing undernutrition, including their efforts around fortified products. This assessment approach was developed with the advice of the ATNI Expert Group and feedback from the public consultation on the methodology.

Were all companies assessed on all aspects of the methodology?

Only companies with more than five per cent of sales in non-OECD countries are assessed on undernutrition. As a result, ConAgra, Kraft and Campbell Soup were not assessed on undernutrition. Ferrero has, furthermore, not been assessed on commercial indicators related to the fortification of their products because their products cannot be fortified. Also some companies were not assessed on certain aspects that did not relate to their business: e.g. some companies were not assessed on fruits and vegetables targets because their portfolio does not contain these nutrients. 

Why are you looking at companies’ efforts to address undernutrition in addition to their general practices on nutrition?

Both undernutrition and obesity related diseases are critical public health issues with extremely wide prevalence. The World Health Organization now considers obesity a global epidemic and undernutrition inflicts pernicious damage on an estimated 2.3 billion people. The ATNI recognizes that food and beverage companies can play a role in addressing both challenges. In particular, there is significant untapped potential for companies to address undernutrition, particularly as they expand their presence in markets where undernutrition is still prevalent. 

Has the Index methodology changed since the first Index?

Yes. As 2013 was the first time that the Index was carried out, there were many learnings from the process and the methodology. Together with shifts in nutrition knowledge, these informed improvements in the methodology for the 2016 Index. ATNI held intensive stakeholder consultations with companies, civil society organizations and investors throughout 2014 to evaluate the approach of the first Index.  The Access to Nutrition Foundation’s Expert Group consisting of a broad range of nutrition experts fed into the process of strengthening the methodology for the 2016 Index, making it more robust and concise by adding more indicators, particularly quantitative ones, and by updating the existing indicators. For future Indexes we expect to continue updating the methodology in line with newly developed knowledge, guidelines and policies on nutrition.  

What value does this Index add beyond information that is already in the public domain?

The Access to Nutrition is currently the only independent means of comparing companies to each other on their global performance on delivering better access to nutrition through all relevant business functions. ATNI’s assessment is based on international guidelines and experts’ guidance. Companies are assessed not only on publicly available information but also on information not in the public domain that was obtained through direct engagement with them.

How can you compare these companies to each other when their product portfolios are so vastly different?

ATNI aims to evaluate the contribution all of the companies are making to improving consumers’ access to nutrition. This is done by evaluating their efforts on improving their product portfolio, how they support consumers in understanding what comprises a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle, how they label their products, how they present them in marketing materials, whether they offer a wide choice of products in varying sizes, and how they engage with governments and policymakers. Companies can improve their nutrition-related practices in all of these areas regardless of the composition of their product portfolios.

We are confident that the methodology used provides both a common platform through which to evaluate companies as well as being flexible enough to accommodate different business models and product portfolios. 

Has ATNI received financial contributions from industry for the development of the Index?

No. ATNI has a strict policy against accepting any financial contributions from companies or organizations that are part of the food and beverage industry. ATNI’s conflict of interest policy is posted on its website.

Is this an investable index?

While ATNI is not intended to be an investable index, it does have the support of both investment managers and large institutional asset owners from around the world. ATNI has produced an Investor Statement in support of the Index, and its current signatories collectively manage over $3.0 trillion. ATNI is designed to be of value to them by providing insights into companies’ performance on nutrition issues which can be integrated into their financial analyses or used as a basis for engagements with companies on these critical issues.

How does ATNI’s scoring work? Is it absolute or relative?

Companies are scored on an absolute scale from 0 to 10 using a system that rewards good practices rather than penalizing poor ones. A score of 0 indicates that no evidence was found for any nutrition-related commitments or practices. A score of 10 signifies best practice as determined by consensus judgments against established international codes and guidelines and other norms set out in the ATNI assessment methodology. 

Does ATNI address issues such as companies' use of genetically modified organisms, impact on water and the environment, sourcing practices, and labor practices?

  • In this first version of the Index, ATNI confined its scope to those issues that are most important to improving access to nutrition.
  • As such, ATNI does not evaluate companies on other important ways in which they  may have a social and/or environmental impact. Other ratings address some of these issues, such as Oxfam's Behind the Brands Scorecard, which reviews the social and environmental impacts that ten large food and beverage companies are having on the food supply chain.

How is ATNI determining which foods are healthy?

There is currently no universally accepted system for determining the nutritional quality of products relative to one another. As a result, there is no international standard for what can be considered a “healthy” product. This creates inherent limitations on ATNI’s assessment of company practices as several indicators in the ATNI methodology depend on companies’ own definitions of “healthy” products, which can vary significantly. A proxy approach is used in this version of the Index that assesses the quality of companies’ nutrient profiling systems – i.e., how companies determine the nutritional quality of their own products.

Has ATNI assessed the nutritional quality of companies’ products?

Not for the Global Index. Given the extremely large number and heterogeneity of products sold by companies assessed by ATNI, it was not within the current scope of the Index to profile the nutritional composition of companies’ products globally (or to identify a reasonably sized sample of products for profiling that would be sufficiently representative of their portfolios).

However, ATNI has assessed the nutritional quality of a random sample of each company’s products in each of the three country-level, or “Spotlight”, Indexes (in India, Mexico, and South Africa) in 2013. This work was carried out by an expert team at Oxford University.

How can some companies with unhealthy product portfolios score so well on ATNI?

ATNI evaluates the contribution all companies are making to improving consumers’ access to nutrition around the world. This is determined both by efforts that companies have undertaken to improve the nutritional quality of their product portfolios and the efforts they make in many other aspects of their businesses, such as how they support consumers in understanding what comprises a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle, how they label their products, how they present their products in marketing materials, offering a wide choice of products in varying sizes, and how they engage with governments and policymakers. Thus if a company with a seemingly less healthy portfolio receives a higher overall score on the ATNI, it is due to strong performance in other categories evaluated by the Index.

Could companies elect whether to be included in the Index?

Companies did not have a choice whether to be included in ATNI, which selected the world’s 20 largest companies by F&B sales (see the website for more information Company selection). Companies also could not pay to be evaluated (funding for ATNI was provided solely by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and CIFF). However, companies had the option not to take part in the engagement phase of the research. For companies that chose not to participate, their evaluation was based solely on publicly available information.

How will the Access to Nutrition Index be used?

The results of ATNI allow for comparison of company performance on delivering better access to nutrition as measured against international guidelines and expert guidance.

  • Companies (including both those ranked and not ranked by ATNI) may use this information to benchmark their performance against peers or to help guide their agenda for nutrition activities.
  • Investors may use this information to guide their engagement with companies and/or investment decisions.
  • Norm-setting bodies may use this information as an input into guideline development, including the identification of areas which currently lack such guidance.
  • Policymakers may use this information to identify areas in need of industry-wide improvement which may be amenable to regulatory intervention.
  • Civil society organizations may use this information to guide their advocacy efforts.
  • Academics may use this information to identify areas in need of further research.
  • Media organizations may use this information to draw attention to priority, or otherwise under-recognized, issues.


Why was the Index established, and by whom?

The rationale for the Index is simple: obesity and undernutrition affect over three billion people and threaten a global health catastrophe. Globally one in three people are now either undernourished, overweight or obese. Over the next ten years malnutrition is set to continue to increase. Over the last 35 years obesity has more than doubled and it has now reached epidemic proportions. Obesity and diet-related diseases affect countries of all income levels. Globally 41 million children under 5 are considered to be overweight, and the bulk (31 m) live in developing countries. By 2030 half of the world population is expected to be overweight or obese. The costs for the obesity epidemic is now approximately 2 trillion USD annually, which is around 3% of global GDP.  At the same time undernutrition affects billions of people globally, increasingly in the form of hidden hunger where people have sufficient food but lack access to adequate micronutrients. Half of the deaths of young children are linked to undernutrition and a substantial amount (12%) is attributed to sub-optimal breastfeeding. Without the support and engagement of the food and beverage industry, it would be impossible to tackle this challenge. The aim of the Index is therefore to promote a more objective public debate around these issues, and encourage companies to do more to address nutritional needs of customers and society at large.

ATNI was conceived by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) in 2010. GAIN was then joined by two other leading global not-for-profit bodies concerned about health and nutrition issues: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust. Together they incubated and funded the development of ATNI as a comprehensive and independent assessment of the nutrition policies and practices of the largest companies in the food and beverage industry. From the outset, the three partners determined that ATNI would transition after its initial Index to be an independent body with its own legal structure, governance and funding arrangements. In 2013 the Access to Nutrition Foundation was therefore established in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

For the 2016 Index, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust in funding the Index. GAIN is no longer involved in the operations nor the funding of ATNI.

ATNI is now being embraced as an independent benchmarking and accountability tool that works with industry, nutrition experts and civil society to measure companies’ contributions to good nutrition against international norms and standards. Since the first Index, companies have increased their engagement with the research process (17 out of 22 were actively engaged). This shows a positive trend highlighting how the Index can enable the food and beverage industry to shape their policies and practices to help consumers around the globe eat better food. 

Why is this Index important?

This Index underscores the important role of food and beverage manufacturers in addressing obesity and undernutrition, both of which are among the world’s most pressing public health concerns. These public health challenges affect billions of people, and efforts to address them are vital to ensure that people around the world can live healthy and productive lives.

Due to the pervasive and increasing role of their products in diets in many countries, global food and beverage manufacturers have the potential to make a powerful contribution to addressing these challenges through their business practices and through their non-commercial and philanthropic giving.   

The ATNI is the only systematic effort to compare companies’ contribution to addressing global nutrition challenges in a consistent way. It provides all those concerned with addressing obesity and undernutrition with an objective picture of what companies are already doing, where they are doing well and where they can improve. In this way it focuses attention on where corporate practices are weak or inconsistent and where additional intervention is needed, either by companies, through further research or changes to government policy. Because of its rigorous methodology, it helps to move beyond the anecdotal and to present a compreunhegenuine collaborative action.

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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