Nestle Updating Its Strategy to Meet ‘Recognised Definition of Health’

FT reported that around 70% of Nestle's food products failed to meet 3.5 star threshold
Nestle Updating Its Strategy to Meet ‘Recognised Definition of Health’
Nestle Updating Its Strategy to Meet ‘Recognised Definition of Health’

Swiss FMCG major Nestle SA has scaled up the nutrient profile of its products after Financial Times reported that more than 60 per cent of its mainstream food and drink products failed to meet a ‘recognised definition of health’. 

The FMCG major is updating its nutrition and health strategy and reviewing its entire portfolio to ensure that the products meet their nutritional needs and support a balanced diet. 

A presentation circulated among the top executives this year, seen by the Financial Times, said only 37 per cent of Nestle's food and beverages by revenues, excluding products such as pet food and specialised medical nutrition, achieve a rating above 3.5 under Australia's health star rating system.

This system scores food out of five stars and is used in research by international groups such as the Access to Nutrition Foundation.  

“Nestle, the maker of KitKat, Maggi, and Nescafe, describes the 3.5-star threshold as a ‘recognised definition of health’,” the report stated. 

The media report also added that around 70 per cent of Nestle's food products failed to meet that threshold, along with 96 per cent of beverages, excluding pure coffee, and 99 per cent of Nestle's confectionery and ice cream portfolio. Water and dairy products scored better, with 82 per cent of water and 60 per cent of dairy products meeting the threshold.

According to Nestle, it has already started working on a company-wide project to upgrade the strategy. It has reduced the sugar and sodium content in its products significantly in the past two decades, about 14-15 per cent in the past 7 years. "In recent years, we have launched thousands of products for kids and families that meet external nutrition yardsticks," a Nestlé SA spokesperson said.

 He further noted that "we have also distributed billions of micronutrient doses via our affordable and nutritious products. We are focusing on assessing the part of our food and beverage portfolio that can be measured against external nutrition profiling systems".

The group is also updating its internal nutrition standards, known as the Nestle Nutritional Foundation, which was introduced under former chief executive Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, who characterised Nestle as a "nutrition, health and wellness company".

Systems like the Health Star Rating and Nutri-Score are useful in this regard and enable consumers to make informed choices. 

"However, they don’t capture everything. About half of our sales are not covered by these systems. That includes categories such as infant nutrition, specialized health products, and pet food, which follow regulated nutrition standards," he said.

Nestle commented that their direction of travel has not changed and will continue to make their portfolio tastier and healthier. 

“We believe that a healthy diet means finding a balance between well-being and enjoyment,” it said. 

In India, Nestle operates eight production units and had reported net sales of Rs 13,290.16 crore for 2020.

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