Food manufacturers face pressure to increase healthy sales
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An investor coalition, representing $3 trillion in assets, wrote to Nestlé, Danone, Kellogg’s, and Kraft Heinz on Tuesday, calling for greater disclosure and ambition on the health profile of their sales portfolios.
This campaign follows on from a shareholder proposal filed at Unilever in January. Investors withdrew the resolution after Unilever agreed to disclose the share of its food and drink sales made up of “healthier” products, as defined by government-endorsed nutrient profiling models, and to set a long-term target and a strategy to increase that share.
Now investors are calling for similar targets, disclosures, and strategies to be published in the 2023 annual reports of four of Unilever’s competitors.
The letters, coordinated by ShareAction, raised issue with each company’s use of independent definitions to identify the health profile of their products.
While Nestlé claims that 80.5% of its sales are healthy, the Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI) put the figure at 43%, following an assessment of the company’s products. Danone similarly claims 90% of its sales are in healthy categories, but ATNI’s figure is 65%. Kellogg’s does not report on the health profile of its sales, but ATNI suggested that 27% of its sales meet government definitions of healthy.
“Regulatory trends, as well as consumer support for healthier products, mean that food businesses must consider health as an increasingly material risk factor,” said Ignacio Vazquez, senior manager at ShareAction, in a press release. “Investors need companies to use standardized health metrics to determine their exposure to regulatory risk and their position relative to competitors on this issue.”