Because this analysis focusses only on nine of the largest food and beverage manufacturers in India it does not provide comparative data on other purveyors of food, such as smaller manufactures, quick service restaurants, artisanal producers etc.
- No comparison with other types of food: Because this analysis focusses only on nine of the largest food and beverage manufacturers in India it does not provide comparative data on other purveyors of food, such as smaller manufactures, quick service restaurants, artisanal producers.
- No universally accepted system for determining the nutritional quality of products, and none for the Indian market: There is no accepted international approach to determine the nutritional quality of food and nor has any Nutrient Profiling System been developed to suit the Indian diet and food preferences. ATNF selected the only system that is being used in India as the main one to assess nutritional quality in the Product Profile. This is the Health Star Rating, developed for use in Australia, which The George Institute is using to underpin their FoodSwitch app available in India. Moreover, the HSR and WHO EURO models are both in their early stages of implementation and subject to ongoing evaluation and refinement.
- Some nutrition values for products were missing from labels: The George Institute imputed missing nutrition values from its database of around 10,000 products sold in India. These values should be relatively accurate. The most likely impact of using proxy nutrient values is underestimation of the real differences between products and between companies.
- Serving size of products is not taken into account: HSR scores for all foods and beverages are calculated on a 100gm/100ml basis, not taking recommended serving size into account, which can generate unrealistic results, particularly for products typically consumed in smaller quantities than this (e.g. table sauces), or larger quantities, and for products that have to be combined with other ingredients to be consumed (e.g. dairy whiteners that need to be diluted with water).
- Products of no inherent nutritional value or single ingredients are not scored: The HSR system does not generate scores for single ingredient products or products of no inherent nutritional value, e.g. instant coffee, tea bags. The latter particularly impacts Hindustan Unilever as 75% of its sales in India are generated from tea. However, an exception is made by the HSR system to encourage the sales and consumption of water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages by giving it 5 stars.
- Limitations on assessing edible oil and other single commodity product companies: Ruchi Soya could not be scored in the Product Profile because only two edible oils with any nutrient content data were found and no sales data was available for its soya-based products.
- Lack of a complete list of all products sold by Index companies and complete nutrition content information: Despite being asked to do so, most companies did not submit a complete product list and did not check the nutrition content data collated by The George Institute. Companies were given the opportunity at the beginning of the Product Profile research process to submit a full list of their products that are available for sale in India. Only four did so. Companies were, later in the process, also given the opportunity to provide or check the nutrition content data collated by The George Institute, but only two companies did this.
- Little data available on pricing: Indian retailers were reluctant to allow in-store collection of data on product prices. Pricing data was therefore collected from online sources where possible and matched to products in the database resulting in substantively incomplete data particularly for perishable items such as dairy, that are generally not offered for sale online.
For more detail on Product Profile limitations, see the report of The George Institute.