Access To Nutrition Initiative To Launch Second Edition Of India Spotlight Index

16 companies in India’s food and beverage sector are being assessed with aim to encourage these companies to improve their nutrition practices

Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI), hosted by Access to Nutrition Foundation releases the second edition of India Spotlight Index that evaluates food and beverage manufacturers on their policies, practices, and performance related to improving nutrition, making it accessible to all. The initiative is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the governments of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

The 16 largest companies in India’s food and beverage sector are being assessed with the aim to encourage these companies to improve their nutrition practices.  The industry can do so by increasing consumer access to nutritious products and responsibly exercising their influence on consumer choice and behaviour through actions in areas such as, fortifying foods with essential micronutrients to prevent under-nutrition, marketing, labelling and promoting healthy diets and active lifestyles.

The 16 companies that will be included in the Spotlight Index 2019 are:
AMUL- Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation, Britannia Industries, Coca- Cola India, Hindustan Unilever, Mondelez India, Mother Dairy- Fruit and Vegetable, Nestlé India, Parle Products , Pepsico India (these nine companies were also assessed in the first India Access to Nutrition Index in 2016).

AAVIN-Tamil Nadu Cooperative Milk Producers Federation, Adani Wilmar, Emami Agrotech, Hatsun Agro, ITC, Karnataka Cooperative Milk Producers Federation (Nandini), Marico (these seven companies are being assessed for the first time this year).

Speaking about the India Spotlight Index, Inge Kauer, Executive Director, Access to Nutrition Foundation said “The 2016 iteration of the Index showed that the largest food and beverage manufacturers in India were making efforts but falling short of grasping the opportunity to make and sell healthier products and responding adequately to fight the enduring and mounting double burden of malnutrition in India. With the India Spotlight Index 2019, we aim to highlight that it is critical that F and B companies assume a central role in Government’s Eat Right India movement. It is encouraging that most companies actively engaged in our 2016 research and are ready to engage again this year.”

The research phase for the 2019 Index commenced in March. The companies have been formally notified about their inclusion in the Index based on their 2018 sales revenues of packaged foods and beverages. The companies will be invited to see the first results and are given the opportunity to provide additional information relevant for the analysis. However, the final analysis and scoring is done by researchers of ATNI. The methodology for the upcoming Index has been adapted with input from Indian experts and a wide variety of stakeholders to reflect recent developments in India. The final results and company scorings are scheduled to be published in November.

Speaking about the challenge of malnutrition in India and the importance of an independent nutrition index, Mark Wijne, Senior Programme Manager, Access to Nutrition Foundation said, “The private sector has a crucial role to play in tackling the mounting nutrition challenges in India. This Index will tap into the competitive nature of the private sector and spark a race to the top in improving nutrition among food and beverage companies in India.”

Of the 10 assessed companies in 2016, seven actively engaged in the research and recognised the Index’ value as a benchmark of their performance on nutrition. The impact of 2016 index is that nutrition is now higher up the agenda of the largest F and B manufacturers in India. The results of the product profile, an assessment of the healthiness of companies’ product portfolios, prompted some companies to review their nutrient profiling systems and the Indian government expressed its commitment to improve labelling regulation and fortification standards to fight micronutrient deficiencies amongst the undernourished.

Raising nutrition standards globally is a social responsibility but it is also in the companies’ best interests as consumers worldwide are increasingly demanding healthier foods with high nutrition value. Better nutrition is needed for all consumers, but especially for those groups that are vulnerable to malnutrition. ATNI is convinced that companies who understand this and that are contributing to better nutrition will also have better business.