Global Index

India Spotlight Index

India Spotlight Index

A. Governance findings

Key findings

Nutrition general

  • Nestlé India is a leader in the area of Corporate Nutrition Strategy, with a score of 8.2. Nestlé India fully adopts its parent’s nutrition strategy that has a clear commitment to strategic growth through health and nutrition, and a specific reference to low-income populations. In addition, the company reports that it is delivering on its strategic commitment by disclosing that over 25% (the highest threshold adopted by the India Spotlight Index) of its Indian sales are derived from products that are classified as healthy by its own Nutrient Profiling System (NPS). In fact the company claims that 94% of its products meet that standard. See the Product Profile chapter for additional commentary on this. 
  • Eight out of ten assessed companies make a general strategic commitment to growing through a focus on health and nutrition. However, only six of these eight companies recognize that they have a role to play in tackling India’s challenges of increasing levels of overweight and obesity and diet-related chronic diseases. 
  • The level at which companies assign ultimate accountability for implementing their nutrition strategies is indicative of the priority they assign to achieving results. For nutrition general, Nestlé India, PepsiCo India and Hindustan Unilever are the only three companies that assign responsibility for implementing the company’s nutrition strategy to their CEO or to an Executive that report directly to the board. 
  • In general, companies perform most strongly in section A2 Nutrition Governance and Management Systems. Scores for A1 on Nutritional Strategy and A3 on Quality of Reporting are lower on average, with significantly higher scores for multinational companies than for local Indian-based companies. This outcome reflects the strong commitments and disclosure practices of multinational companies. While Indian subsidiaries of multinational companies benefit from the global application of these commitments and disclosure practices, Indian-based companies do not.

Undernutrition

  • While the majority of companies (nine out of the ten assessed on undernutrition) disclose a commitment to combatting undernutrition in India, only two companies, among which is disclose having undertaken a formal Board-level strategic review of the commercial opportunities available to address undernutrition. Nestlé India has also undertaken such an exercise but was not reviewed by the Board.
  • Generally, few companies demonstrate adequate performance with respect to addressing undernutrition commercially. Only five of the ten companies assessed disclose a commitment to addressing undernutrition through product fortification and only two of the disclosed have undertaken comprehensive market research to inform their product fortification strategy. Market research is essential to identify micronutrient deficiencies and to assess the potential for addressing such deficiencies through fortification of consumer products. Cargill, although not assessed for the full India Spotlight Index (see Methodology Section, Company selection), demonstrates the best practice in this area that other companies can learn from, as it has undertaken an India-wide study to inform the fortification of its edible oils. 
  • Despite being obliged to have a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) budget in India, in general companies perform poorly on addressing undernutrition through such non-commercial means. Most Indian subsidiaries of multinational companies do not have a structured and comprehensive approach to addressing undernutrition. The majority of these companies do not articulate any formal approach to addressing undernutrition non-commercially or have only ad-hoc programs in a few Indian states. In general, Indian-based companies also do not articulate a well-structured, non-commercial strategy to address undernutrition. Britannia Industries demonstrates leadership in this area though the work of the Britannia Nutritional Foundation (BNF). The BNF focusses on addressing malnutrition through public-private partnerships, building awareness about undernutrition and engaging with communities to combat it. 
  • Three out of ten assessed companies provide limited commentary in their reporting that addresses their work to tackle undernutrition in India through product fortification. A limited commentary is defined as including some details on the company’s work and/or approach to tackling undernutrition in India, but without information on the populations reached and the impact of their programs. These three companies are among others Hindustan Unilever and Britannia Industries. Nestlé India also discloses commentary that speaks to the impact of its programs, specifically the number of servings of micronutrient fortified foods and beverages.

Key recommendations

  • Although Indian-based companies recognize their role in addressing nutrition issues they could improve by adopting more formal nutrition strategies: Indian subsidiaries of multinationals benefi t from the application of their parent companies’ global policies whereas Indian-based companies seem to recognize their role in addressing nutrition issues but are taking only ad-hoc action. These Indian-based companies are strongly encouraged to develop more formal nutrition strategies that have a clear link to their business strategy, incorporate commitments to reaching low-income populations with healthy and fortifi ed products and to set clear objectives and targets approved by their Boards. 
  • All companies are encouraged to develop a well-structured, non-commercial strategy to address undernutrition: Given that all companies operating in India are obligated to have a CSR budget, and the level of need in India, companies are encouraged to dedicate a portion of their budget to developing strategic cross-sectoral partnerships and other initiatives to address undernutrition. A good example to learn from is that of Britannia Industries, which demonstrates a comprehensive non-commercial strategy to address undernutrition in India through The Britannia Nutritional Foundation (BNF).
  • All companies (when relevant) are encouraged to base commercial product fortifi cation on comprehensive research: Research is essential to identify micronutrient defi ciencies in different populations and to develop products that meet their nutritional needs. Currently, only two companies base their product fortifi cation strategy on country-wide market research (Nestlé India and Britannia Industries). Companies are encouraged to conduct or use existing needs assessments to underpin their business strategy for addressing nutrition through fortifi ed products.
  • Indian-based companies could benefi t from improving disclosure of nutrition policies and strategies: Companies originating in India are encouraged to improve reporting on all their nutritionrelated activities. These companies should aim to publish reports annually that are set against clear objectives and plans, and include an explanation of the challenges faced and future outlook.

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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Funders

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Wellcome Trust

CIFF

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