Nestlé to revise nutrition strategies after documents reveal two thirds of its portfolio is not healthy

Nestlé is set to deliver a revised nutrition strategy after leaked internal documents indicated around 70% of its portfolio, including confectionery and snacks, was not considered as being healthy, reports Neill Barston.

According to reports by the Financial Times, it had obtained a presentation from the Swiss-headquartered food giant that conceded that many of its ranges were within categories considered as indulgent and that some would never meet health expectations.

The company, which manufactures key ranges including KitKat, Aero and Yorkie bars has responded that it is actively seeking to review its entire product portfolio, with around half its CHF 92.6 billion in sales reportedly considered to be products that were not considered to meet nutritionally recognised definitions of health.

However, as reported last month, the company’s key shift in focus was underlined by a $5.75 billion move to acquire the Bountiful Company’s nutrition and supplements divisions, including gummy ranges, which has reflected a growing consumer desire for better-for-you snacks and wider food series.

The business has engaged with healthier options for confectionery, most notably with its Wowsome bar series, which was withdrawn in 2020 following reportedly low sales. This was the first of its products to create a new system of sugar delivery that cut levels by roughly a third, with the company stating that since 2017, it has reduced sugars by 4.5%, and added that its sugar-reduction systems are due to be rolled-out further this year.

In response to the leaked documents, the company issued a statement, noting that it is undertaking a company-wide evaluation of its product series, which include a number of highly processed series.

“Nestlé is working on a company-wide project to update its pioneering nutrition and health strategy. 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.

“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. We have also distributed billions of micronutrient doses via our affordable and nutritious products.

“As we consider our future nutrition strategy, we are first focusing on assessing the part our food and beverage portfolio that can be measured against external nutrition profiling systems. Systems like the Health Star Rating and Nutri-Score are useful in this regard and enable consumers to make informed choices. However, they don’t capture everything. About half of our sales are not covered by these systems. That includes categories such as infant nutrition, specialised 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.”


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