Global Index

India Spotlight Index

Global Index 2016

F. Labeling findings

Key findings

  • Unilever is the leader with a score of 6.2.
  • Unilever, Nestlé and Mondelez all score above 5.0, demonstrating good progress towards best practice. None of these companies were placed in the top three positions in the 2013 Index. However, many companies performed poorly. Nine companies scored below 2.0 and three companies (Wahaha, Tingyi and Lactalis) did not disclose any relevant information and scored zero in this category.
  • Companies that have most improved their ranking since the 2013 Index are FrieslandCampina (up 12 places), Campbell (up eight places) and Grupo Bimbo (up six places). Ajinomoto, Kraft and ConAgra all fell substantially.
  • Overall, this Category remains a low scoring one, with an average score of only 2.4, showing that this is an area all companies need to pay more attention to. This is particularly the case with front-of-pack labeling and the adoption of responsible claims policies. However, 45% of companies scored above the average score in 2016, compared to 40% in 2013. This demonstrates moderate improvement across the group. Eight companies have released new policies or strengthened their practices since the last Index was published.
  • Companies generally scored better in ‘Labeling’ (F1) than in ‘Health and nutrition claims’ (F2), as more have disclosed labeling commitments and practices. However, very few address health and nutrition claims in countries where their use is not regulated.
  • Similar to the findings of the 2013 Global Index, most companies commit to labeling the nutritional content of their products, both back-of-pack and front-of-pack. However, only four companies commit to including all key nutrients as recommended by Codex. Two of these companies apply this commitment globally and voluntarily, rather than only committing to follow regulatory requirements in their home market, such as following U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling regulation.
  • Ten of the companies assessed (45%) committed to comply with the International Food & Beverage Alliance’s (IFBA) ‘Principles for a global approach to fact-based nutrition information’, showing their support to the industry’s collective effort to address poor dietary intakes among consumers. However, to achieve highest score, companies need to go beyond IFBA’s requirements.
  • Companies with international operations fail to provide evidence of having rolled out their policies globally: Twenty out of 22 do not disclose the percentage of markets in which they have implemented labeling commitments in full. This is a concern, given that complete, objective, fact- and sciencebased nutrition information should be provided to all consumers in all markets. Companies are expected to go beyond the somewhat more lenient legal requirements in emerging countries to ensure that vulnerable consumers are not exposed to misleading nutritional statements.
  • Few companies made commitments concerning proper labeling of fortified products in emerging markets. Only five companies scored on F1 and three on F2 illustrating that overall the industry has not adopted recommended and important practices that would help undernourished consumers in developing countries choose appropriately fortified products.

Key recommendations

  • Adopt and publish a formal policy that commits both to full back-of-pack labeling and interpretative front-of-pack labeling: To help consumers make informed and healthy choices, companies should adopt policies that commit to providing, on the back-of-packs: i) full, fact-based nutrition information for all key nutrients (recommended by Codex); ii) present the information as a percentage of guideline daily amounts or daily values; iii) provide the information for both single and multiple portions. On the front-of-pack, companies should commit to providing interpretative labeling using colored graphics or symbols. These are more effective than presenting numbers in a monochrome format and help consumers to correctly assess the nutritional content of a product. Go beyond joint industry pledges that fall short of best practice: Although some companies pledge to support industry initiatives (e.g. IFBA’s ‘Principles for a global approach to fact-based nutrition labeling’ and ‘Facts Up Front’), they should go further and align their own policies with international best practice.
  • Apply the policy globally: Consumers everywhere should have the same comprehensive information made available to them about the nutritional content of foods. Companies that operate globally should apply their commitments across all markets and all products (where national regulation allows), instead of simply committing to follow national requirements (which can fall short of international standards).
  • Adopt and publish a global policy on the use of health and nutrition claims: While in developed countries the use of health and nutrition claims is regulated, this is not the case in many developing countries. Therefore, in countries where no national regulatory system exists (or is weak), companies should commit to only placing health or nutrition claims on a product if it meets the standards set out by Codex to ensure that consumers in these countries are not misled about potential health benefits.
  • Report more on the use of health and nutrition claims:Companies should exhibit greater accountability by disclosing more information about their use of such claims across their global portfolios and track and report on the number of products that carry these claims.
  • Publish nutrition content information for all products online:In this digital age, many consumers look up information online. Companies should work to ensure that they provide full nutritional information on their corporate or brands’ websites, in an easily accessible way.
  • Label foods high in micronutrients: For fortified foods developed for those with micronutrient deficiencies in emerging markets companies should commit to providing information about the micronutrients within those products.This will help consumers to make more informed choices that address their specific health and nutritional needs.

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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