The 10 companies in the report included Coca-Cola, ConAgra Brands, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft Heinz, Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever. Each company was ranked on a 10 point scale based on key criteria including product reformulation efforts, portion of sales generated by healthy products, and formal policies with measurable targets to make healthy products more accessible and affordable.
“The Access to Nutrition Foundation started evaluating food and beverage companies worldwide with our first Global Access to Nutrition Index in 2013. Over time, we have seen improvements in nutrition strategies and reporting, affordability and accessibility of healthy products, and labeling,” said Inge Kauer, executive director of ATNF.
Out of the 10 companies profiled, Nestlé came out on top with a score of 5.3 out of 10 for being the most transparent about its progress to help consumers eat healthier through commitments focused on making its product portfolio healthier, better informing consumers, more responsible marketing activities, and other efforts. Unilever had the second highest score and PepsiCo was third. ConAgra scored the highest in the 'product profile' section of the index, carrying the healthiest product portfolio, followed by Kraft Heinz and General Mills in third.
“The US Access to Nutrition Index shows that while the leading food and beverage companies make some efforts to improve, they generate an estimated $160bn in domestic sales and are not harnessing the significant opportunities they have to help families across our country make the kind of healthy food and beverage choices that will enable them to live healthier lives,” said Shiriki Kumanyika, chair of the Access to Nutrition Index Expert Group and research professor at Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health, said.
Many of the major CPG companies have made efforts to improve the nutrition strategies such as a commitment not to market to K-12 schools by General Mills and Kraft Heinz, Unilever's reformulation targets to reduce the amount of calories and sugar in its products, and a clearly reported nutrition strategy by Nestlé with a focus on improving childhood nutrition.
But according to ATNF there are still several areas of improvement including incorporating more concrete product reformulation efforts into its overall corporate strategy and setting clear targets to make healthy products more accessible and affordable.
"The companies have not made specific commitments to market healthier products to populations in the United States whose ability to maintain nutritious diets is constrained by low income or by geographic factors," ATNF claimed.
“With the launch of the first US Index, we now have a tool that can be used to both track what food and beverage companies are actually doing in the United States to help people make healthy choices about what they eat and drink and encourage them to go further,” added Kauer.