First India Access to Nutrition Spotlight Index launched today

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Hyderabad, December 2016: The Access to Nutrition Foundation (ATNF) launched the firstIndia Access to NutritionSpotlight Index in New Delhi today. The principal finding, following months of in-depth research, is that the largest F&B manufacturers in India are falling far short of what they need to do to help fight the enduring and mounting double burden of malnutrition in India.

Commenting on the occasion Mrs.Inge Kauer, Executive Director of the Access to Nutrition Foundation said “India faces the serious and escalating double burden of malnutrition, large wilargely undernourished populationas well as growing numbers of overweight and obese people who are developing chronic diseases. 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.”

The 2016 Access to Nutrition India Spotlight Index is published by ATNF, an independent not-for-profit organization based in The Netherlands, which develops and publishes a range of such Indexes. The purpose of the 2016 India Index is to provide stakeholders with an independent, objective assessment of the extent to which the country’s largest F&B manufacturersare addressing the double burden of malnutrition in India. ATNF hopes that this first India Spotlight Index will encourage F&B manufacturers to increase consumers’ access to nutritious products and to responsibly exercise their substantial influence on consumer choice and behavior, thereby improvingthe diets of millions of Indians and contributing to reducing the serious health and economic consequences of both obesity and undernutrition.

Ten ofIndia’s largest corporates in the F&B sector were assessed for the first India Index,mostof which participated actively in the research, thereby demonstrating that they see value in the Index. India is described as facing a double burden of malnutrition because it has a large undernourished population while the number of overweight and obese people is growing rapidly.In real terms: India is home to the largest number of stunted children in the world – 48 million under the age of 5 years old are wasted – while at the same time, childhood obesity is reaching alarming proportions.The obesity prevalence rate reached 22% in children and adolescents aged between 5-19 years over the last five
years.

Key findings of the first India Spotlight Index are thatmost of India’s largest F&B manufacturersmake strategic commitments to grow their businesses by focusing on health and nutrition and demonstrate some good practice. However, the aggregate picture is that the sector has a long way to go if it is to make a significant difference to India’s nutrition challenges. The translation of words into actions will require clear and ambitious strategies in all areas of their businesses underpinned by specific, measurable and time-bound commitments to contribute to fighting all forms of malnutrition.

Companies have been scored out of a maximum of ten. The leading companies on the Corporate Profile – Nestlé India and Hindustan Unilever–with scores of 7.1 and 6.7 respectively–have done more than the other seven companiesassessed to integrate nutrition into their business models.
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 on the Product Profile, Hindustan Unilever scored 4.6 and Amul scored 4.4. Using the same methodology to assess BMS marketing as in Vietnam and Indonesia in 2015, the research found only one company of the eight assessed in Mumbai – Raptakos Brett – to be in complete compliance with the IMS Act.

While some incidences of non-compliance were identified related to the other seven companies assessed, overall they were found broadly to comply with the IMS Act – a testament to its strength and vigilant monitoring by local stakeholders.

Nevertheless, several types of marketing were identified, like those found by theBreastfeeding Promotion Network India (BPNI)which do not comply with the letter or the spirit of the IMS Act, such as promotions by online retailers and promotional wording on product labels.

The final scores of the two BMS companies included in the 2016 India Spotlight Index – Nestlé India and Amul – were adjusted to reflect the findings of the BMS assessment.

Key Highlights of the report: 

  • Mother Dairy’snumber 1 ranking in the Product Profile of the 2016 India Spotlight Index, indicates that its product portfolio is the healthiest of the nine companies assessed.
  • Nestle India tops theCorporate Profile rankingwith its strongest policies, practices and disclosure on nutrition and undernutrition.
  • Despite certain good practices, the largest food and beverage manufacturers have much to doto help fight the mounting double burden of malnutrition in India.
    Only around 12% of beverages sold by the Index companies and 16% of foods were of high nutritional quality.
  • Local Indian companies need to adopt and disclose their nutrition strategies and policies, while particularly themultinationals operating in India need to improve the nutritional quality of their portfolios.
  • Nine of thecompanies assessedhave a commitment to combat undernutritionbutmost companies do not produce or produce very few fortified packaged foods.
  • India’s strict regulation of marketing of breast-milk substitutes (BMS) and vigilant monitoring mean that the 8 BMS companies assessed were found broadly to comply with the IMS Act.
  • Nevertheless, several worrying examples of marketing were found that must be addressed, such as promotions by online retailers and product labels that include promotional wording.