The worlds largest packaged food and drinks company, Nestle, admitted that more than 60 percent of its mainstream products do not meet a “recognised definition of health”. “Some of our categories and products will never be ‘healthy no matter how much we renovate”, the Financial Times reported quoting a Nestle document.
An internal circulated among the top executives this year, seen by the Financial Times, said only 37 percent 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. As per the report, Nestle, the maker of KitKat, Maggi and Nescafe, describes the 3.5-star threshold as a “recognised definition of health”.
The report said within its overall food and drink portfolio, about 70 per cent of Nestle’s food products failed to meet that threshold, the presentation said, along with 96 percent of beverages excluding pure coffee and 99 percent of Nestle’s confectionery and ice cream portfolio. Water and dairy products scored better, with 82 percent of water and 60 per cent of dairy products meeting the threshold.
“We have made significant improvements to our products… [but] our portfolio still underperforms against external definitions of health in a landscape where regulatory pressure and consumer demands are skyrocketing.”Nestle Document
The data excludes baby formula, pet food, coffee and the health science division, which makes foods for people with specific medical conditions. This means the data accounts for about half of Nestle’s Swiss Francs 92.6 billion (72.7 billion pound) total annual revenues.
The report said the findings come as foodmakers contend with a global push to combat obesity and promote healthier eating. Executives at Nestle are considering what new commitments to make on nutrition and are aiming to unveil plans this year.
After the Financial Times report, said they are 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”.
“We are looking at our entire portfolio across the different phases of people’s lives to ensure our products are helping meet their nutritional needs and supporting a balanced diet,” the spokesperson said.
One option could be to drop or replace these standards for products seen as treats, such as confectionery, according to a person familiar with the situation, as per the report. Mark Schneider, chief executive, Nestle, has acknowledged that consumers want a healthier diet but rejected claims that “processed” food including those made by Nestle and other multinationals tend to be unhealthy.