ShareAction vows to turn up the heat on unhealthy food makers

Table of Contents Is bad food bad business?Set targets and report on results, industry urgedAreas

Six of the 16 companies – Ferrero, Suntory, Mondelēz, Unilever, Coca-Cola and Nestlé – derive 80% or more of their sales from products that score less than 3.5 stars in the Health Star Rating System, the data from Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI) showed.

There was little progress in moving towards healthier sales compared to 2019 levels at many of the largest F&B companies. Kellogg, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Mondelēz, Suntory and Ferrero all saw stagnant or negative trends, the report noted.

“The average healthiness of product portfolios by some of the largest manufacturers selling in the UK remains concerning, with a mean Health Star Rating of 2.2 out of 5 stars. Poor diets remain the biggest risk factor for preventable ill health in the UK and consumers need easier access to affordable, healthy diets to fight this,”​ Inge Kauer, Executive Director of the Access to Nutrition Initiative, said.

ATNI analysed the nutritional quality of more than 4,000 products, which account for around half of all branded packaged food and beverage products sold in the country. The research was funded by investment campaign group ShareAction.

Is bad food bad business?

The companies that showed little or no progress towards healthier sales are highly exposed to categories like ice cream and confectionery. So, do these numbers simply show that some categories are inherently unhealthy?

Not according to Louisa Hughes, Engagement Manager at ShareAction. It’s more a question of short-term profits than anything else, she suggested. “At present, we’re flooded by opportunities and incentives to consume more, and especially more of the less healthy products. Many companies prioritise the sale of highly processed products with little nutritional value because, in the short term, these can be more profitable,”​ she told FoodNavigator.