Food and drink makers urged to improve nutritional quality after disturbing findings

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71 per cent of UK sales at 16 of the largest food and beverage manufacturers are generated by unhealthy products, says a recent report, suggesting companies need to do more to improve the nutritional quality of their product portfolios in the U.K.

As per a report published on Thursday (23) by Access To Nutrition Initiative (ATNI), average mean Health Star Rating (HSR) of more than 4,000 products from 16 of the world’s largest food and beverage manufacturers active in the U.K is only 2.2 out of 5 stars. 

Noteworthy here is that products need to reach or exceed a threshold of 3.5 out of 5 stars to be considered ‘healthy’ and only 32 per cent of the products assessed by ATNI (1,337 out of 4,207) met this healthy threshold. 

Despite the findings, ATNI claims that even within a relatively short period of time, manufacturers can make progress through measures that introduce healthier product varieties in their portfolios. 

Sales from ‘healthy’ products increased from 22 per cent in 2019 to 29 per cent in 2021, as per the report’s findings. Like, Danone’s sales-weighted mean HSR improved the most by 0.7 stars (from 3.3 to 4.0), driven by changes in the dairy product mix, and by a larger proportion of total U.K sales deriving from dairy products.

The company that improved the most in the overall ranking was PepsiCo, moving up three places, as the mean HSR for some of its product categories improved due to changes in the product mix, says the report.

ATNI has urged food and beverage manufacturers in the U.K. to accelerate measures that introduce more healthy product variation in portfolios and adopt a robust nutrient profiling model to guide (re)formulation efforts and benchmark performance.

Companies should re-direct investments towards marketing of healthier products and should not market products that are unsuitable to be marketed to children, as assessed by the WHO Europe model or equivalent, said the non-profit organization.

ATNI has also called on investors to engage with food and beverage manufacturers to demand urgent action on improving the healthiness of products and sales of healthy products.