Nestlé says less than half of mainstream foods and beverages are considered ‘healthy’

Less than half of Nestlé’s mainstream food and beverage portfolio uses commonly accepted definitions of nutritional value, despite pressure on packaged food manufacturers to increase the nutritional value of their products and can be considered “healthy”.

Excluding products such as pet food, baby food, vitamins and specialty medical nutrition, 54% of the company’s food and beverage revenue comes from widely used health foods, according to the world’s largest food company’s annual report. Star rating (HSR) system.

According to the non-profit Access to Nutrition Initiative, foods that score low are not considered “generally healthy.” HSR takes into account saturated fat, sugar and salt levels in individual products, as well as “positive nutrients” such as fiber, fruits and vegetables.

Nestlé, maker of products such as Smarties chocolate, Nesquik milkshakes and Nescafe coffee, said the figure came after pressure from some shareholders and campaigners calling for the industry to be more transparent about the nutritional value of its products. announced.

The Swiss-based group said it was “setting the standard for transparency” and was the first company in the industry to “report the nutritional value of its entire global portfolio.”

Holly Gabriel, campaigner for responsible investment charity ShareAction, welcomed the disclosure but said it “shows the company is still too reliant on selling unhealthy food and beverages.” Concerned.

Packaged food groups are under scrutiny for how much they are responsible for the global obesity problem. It imposes limits on promotions.

Nestlé Chief Executive Mark Schneider told analysts on an earnings call last month that the group had “already made a lot of progress” in reducing sodium, sugar and saturated fat.

The company said it recently reduced the salt content of products such as Mahler Seafood Creamy Soup, increased the sugar-free variant of Coffee Mate, and launched more plant-based foods such as Garden Gourmet Schnitzel.

But industry executives say there are limits to how much healthier products can be pushed, especially as inflation weighs on consumer spending and drives up costs for the industry.

“It’s clear that while we’re working, there are limits,” says Schneider. “Enjoy related categories [such as confectionery] It does not fall into the health-related category. ”

In its annual report, Nestlé classified its net sales into four categories. 17% said he had a product with an HSR score below 1.5, 18% had a product with a score between 1.5 and 3.5, and 30% had a rating of at least 3.5. The remaining 35% comes from pet care and other products not covered by HSR.

Data was compiled by the company and audited by third-party bureau Veritas. Nestlé first disclosed the figures on Tuesday, while the Financial Times showed in an internal presentation about two years ago that a high proportion of its portfolio had him scoring below 3.5 on a scale.

Mark Wijne, research director of the Access to Nutrition Initiative, also said the disclosure was “extremely welcome,” but that companies such as Nestlé are doing more to innovate and promote healthier alternatives. It showed that many things can and should be done.

“We have come a long way, but we want to go even further,” said Nestlé.

HSR was originally developed by Australian authorities and is now used worldwide by investors and policy makers.

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