After an internal presentation showed that more than 60 percent of Nestle’s food and drink products are not healthy, the global foods company said in a statement that it is working to update its nutrition and health strategy. It has said that it will continue to make its portfolio ‘tastier and healthier’.
According to an internal presentation, first reported by Financial Times, only 37 percent of Nestle’s food and beverage products had a rating of over 3.5 as per Australia’s health star rating system. As per this system, food products are given scores out of 5 and the system is reportedly used in research by international groups.
The maker of Maggi and Nescafe products reportedly also acknowledged that while over 60 percent of its mainstream F&B products don’t meet a recognised definition of health, some of its categories and products will never be ‘healthy’, no matter how much the company renovates.
Reacting to the report, a Nestlé S.A Spokesperson also said that the company is looking at its entire portfolio across the different phases of people’s lives to ensure its products are helping meet their nutritional needs and supporting a balanced diet.
“Our efforts build on a strong foundation of work over decades to improve the nutritional footprint of our products. For example, we have reduced the sugars and sodium in our products significantly in the past two decades, about 14-15% in the past 7 years alone. In recent years, we have launched thousands of products for kids and families that meet external nutrition yardsticks,” the company spokesperson added.
The ‘recognised definition of health’, according to Nestle is products that score 3.5 and above as per Australia’s health star rating system.
The company presentation also revealed that within the company’s overall portfolio of food and drinks, 70 percent of its food products and 96 percent of its beverages, 99 percent of its confectionery and ice cream portfolio did not meet that threshold. The only exception in beverages was its pure coffee.
However, 60 percent of Nestle’s dairy products and 82 percent of its water products met the threshold of a 3.5 score.
Speaking of its future nutrition strategy, Nestle said in a statement that it is first focusing on assessing the part of its food and beverage portfolio that can be measured against external nutrition profiling systems. It said that while systems like the Health Star Rating and Nutri-Score are useful in this regard, they don’t capture everything.
“About half of our sales are not covered by these systems. That includes categories such as infant nutrition, specialized health products and pet food, which follow regulated nutrition standards. We believe that a healthy diet means finding a balance between well-being and enjoyment. This includes having some space for indulgent foods, consumed in moderation. Our direction of travel has not changed and is clear: we will continue to make our portfolio tastier and healthier,” the spokesperson added.
While there is no clarity yet on what this means for Nestle’s products made and sold in India, a Nestlé India spokesperson said, “Nestlé India believes that nutrition is a fundamental need and the food industry has a vital role to play in enabling healthier lives. Driven by our purpose, we are constantly striving to increase the nutrient profile of our products, as well as innovate with new and nutritious offerings. “