The HWCF is made up of trade organizations, non-governmental organizations, and retailers, as well as the nation’s biggest food and beverage manufacturers, including the likes of Nestlé, Kraft, Kellogg’s, the Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo, among others. The Foundation was set up in October 2009, saying that it aims to reduce obesity rates in the United States.
“Our industry has an important role to play in helping people lead healthy lives and our actions are having a positive impact,” said Indra Nooyi, HWCF Chair, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo.
“We see continued opportunities to give consumers the choices they’re looking for and to work collaboratively with the public and non-profit sectors on initiatives that enable continued progress.”
Lisa Gable, president of the HWCF, told FoodNavigator-USA that the announcement is only a progress report, and that the foundation will be announcing its final number in the fall and is focused on completing this particular pledge.
"After that we will look at next steps," she said. "HWCF’s focus is on calories and reducing those calories. The Grocery Manufacturers Association and other groups are looking at the broader array of questions and discussions.”
While the initiative is being hailed as good for consumer health, it is also proving to be good business with a new report indicating that lower-calorie sales increased by over $1.25 billion for the CPG members of the HWCF, compared to less than $300 million for higher calorie products.
According to a new report by Hank Cardello, senior fellow and director, Obesity Solutions Initiative at Hudson Institute, lower-calorie products drove 82% of the sales growth among the HWCF member CPG companies.
Cordello’s report, Lower-Calorie Foods and Beverages Drive Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation Companies’ Sales Growth, also stated that lower-calorie sales increased by over $1.25 billion, compared to less than $300 million for higher calorie products.
Data also indicated that 10 of the 15 new products that attained annual sales of at least $50 million were lower-calorie products.
“Until now there has been limited evidence that increasing sales of lower-calorie foods and beverages can improve overall company sales performance. Our study concludes that lower-calorie foods are driving growth for CPG companies that are members of the HWCF, and these choices should continue to be pursued aggressively,” concluded Cordello’s report.
In 2010 the HWCF committed to the First Lady’s Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) to reduce calories by 1.5 trillion by 2015.
“Today’s report from the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF) offers further indication that consumer demand is shifting toward healthier choices. We are pleased that HWCF’s participating companies are a key part of this transformation,” said Larry Soler, president and CEO of the PHA.
Sam Kass, Executive Director of Let's Move!, added: “We look forward to the evaluation underway by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and hope it confirms what we learned today.
“This is another step towards improving the health of families and we are encouraged by their leadership, yet we know much more work is ahead to ensure a healthier future. We will continue to build on the momentum in the marketplace to improve the food landscape for American families."
The HWCF participating companies include: Bumble Bee Foods, LLC; Campbell Soup Company; ConAgra Foods; General Mills, Inc.; Kellogg Company; Kraft Foods, Inc.; Mars, Incorporated; McCormick & Company, Inc.; Nestlé USA; PepsiCo; Post Foods/Ralston Foods, LLC; Sara Lee Corporation; The Coca-Cola Company; The Hershey Company; The J.M. Smucker Company; and Unilever.