Nutrition rank gives food for thought

NEW DELHI: The largest food and beverage manufacturers in the country need to pull up their socks when it comes to offering nutritious products to consumers.

Research by the Netherlands-based The Access to Nutrition Foundation (ATNF) has found that food and beverage companies in India are falling far short of what they need to do to help fight malnutrition.

For instance, despite having the strongest nutrition and undernutrition-related commitments and policies, Nestle India, maker of Maggi noodles, scored the second lowest for nutrition qualities of its products among all the companies assessed under the India Access to Nutrition Spotlight Index. On the other hand, Mother Dairy scored the highest.

“India faces the serious and escalating double burden of malnutrition, with a large undernourished population, as well as growing numbers of overweight and obese people who are developing chronic diseases,” said Inge Kauer, executive director of ATNF.

“Food and Beverage (F&B) manufacturers in India have the potential, and the responsibility, to be part of the solution to this double burden of malnutrition.” Factor this: India is home to the largest number of stunted children in the world -48 million under the age of 5 -while at the same time, childhood obesity is reaching alarming proportions.The obesity prevalence rate reached 22% in children and adolescents aged between 519 years over the last five years, the report said.

Under the index, companies have been scored out of a maximum of ten in two ways -corporate profile and product profile. While the former assesses companies’ nutrition and undernutrition-related commitments and policies, practices and disclosure in seven areas of their business, the latter assesses the nutritional quality of the products of all companies included in the India Index.

The leading companies on the corporate profile -Nestle India and Hindustan Unilever -with scores of 7.1 and 6.7 respectively -have done more than the other seven companies assessed to integrate nutrition into their business models.

In the product profile segment, Mother Dairy , Hindustan Unilever and Amul, on the other hand, sell the largest proportion of healthy products among the Index companies. Mother Dairy scored 5.6 out of 10, Hindustan Unilever scored 4.6 and Amul scored 4.4.

The largest food and beverage manufacturers in the country need to pull up their socks when it comes to offering nutritious products to consumers. Research by the Netherlands-based The Access to Nutrition Foundation (ATNF) has found that food and beverage companies in India are falling far short of what they need to do to help fight malnutrition.

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