Global Access to Nutrition Index 2021 Calls for Food Industry to Urgently Address Nutrition Gap in the COVID-19 Era

Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI) has launched its 2021 Global Index, assessing the world’s 25 largest global food and beverage manufacturers and their contributions to addressing malnutrition. While some companies have shown significant progress since its last iteration in 2018, progress from the top 10 ranking manufacturers has slowed. ATNI is urgently calling on companies to step up efforts to tackle some of the world’s toughest nutrition challenges.

Malnutrition in any form affects every county in the world, contributing towards millions of deaths and people at risk of diet related diseases. In 2019, 690 million people (8.9% of the global population) were considered undernourished, and with the economic effects of COVID-19 we’re seeing even more people experiencing extreme poverty and the consequences of overweight and diet-related diseases.

Inge Kauer, Executive Director of ATNI, commented, “As the 25 largest food and beverage manufacturers, each must take responsibility to deliver healthy product offerings to consumers across the globe and not leave nutrition behind. That’s no small task – but it’s one that requires action urgently if we are to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals to end world hunger and ensure good health and well-being.”

Highlights and Rankings

All companies were assessed on their commitments, practices, and disclosure – with regards to governance and management, the production and distribution of healthy, affordable, accessible products, and how companies influence consumer choices and behaviour.

  • The average score remained the same as 2018: 3.3/10.
    • Nestlé led the 2021 ranking with a score of 6.7. The company achieved a top-3 rank in all categories and ranked first on ‘Governance’, and ‘Engagement’.
    • Unilever came second with 6.3, and FrieslandCampina third with 5.9.
    • Arla showed a big improvement from 3.3 in 2018 to 5.1 in 2021, largely because of a new labeling policy, responsible marketing policies, and an improvement in healthiness of its product portfolio.
    • Meiji rose four places, partially due to incorporation of a nutrition strategy in its CSR vision and new policies aimed at marketing to children and labeling.
  • Only 31% of products met the independent health standard (a health star rating of 3.5 stars or more). This equates to 11,797 of the 38,176 distinct products sold by the 25 companies globally
    • Just five companies were found to have half or more of their products meet the healthy threshold of 3.5 stars
    • Nine companies improved the average HSR of their products between 2018 and 2021.

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