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The Global Access to Nutrition Index

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The global Access to Nutrition Index (ATNI)—launched in March 2013—is a groundbreaking initiative designed to address two of the world’s most pressing public health challenges: obesity and undernutrition. As such, they pose a set of risks and opportunities to food and beverage manufacturers. The ATNI Global Index benchmarks 25 of the world’s largest food and beverage manufacturers’ performance on addressing obesity and undernutrition, highlighting how well positioned these companies are commercially to respond to these challenges. Recognizing the relevance of nutrition issues to this sector, 40 investment organizations from around the world, that collectively manage more than USD$2.6 trillion in assets, have signed up to ATNI’s Investor Statement.

Obesity and undernutrition are associated with a range of diseases which collectively affect an estimated 2.3 billion people globally—about one-third of the world’s population. Efforts to address them are vital to ensure that people around the world can live healthy and productive lives. Developed by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and supported by The Wellcome Trust and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ATNI aims to address these dual health challenges by encouraging companies to provide consumers with access to better nutrition. ATNI benchmarks 25 of the world’s largest food and beverage manufacturers’ approaches to addressing both obesity and undernutrition and identifies areas for improvement. It also provides an independent source of information for stakeholders interested in monitoring and/or engaging with the food and beverage industry on nutrition issues. 

At launch, Inge Kauer, Executive Director of ATNI, said: "Obesity and undernutrition affect billions of people and threaten a global health catastrophe. The Access to Nutrition Index is an urgent call to action for food and beverage manufacturers to integrate improved nutrition into their business strategies. It is not only good for public health; it is a business imperative and key to their long-term sustainability.”

The Index is founded on the dual premises that food and beverage manufacturers have a central role to play in addressing nutrition challenges and that it is in these companies’ commercial interests to proactively address these challenges. In fact, given their enormous and growing global reach, companies must be at the forefront of solutions to improve access to better nutrition: the 25 companies assessed by ATNI had combined 2011 revenues of around US$460 billion.

Companies were evaluated on their corporate strategy on nutrition; their formulation and delivery of appropriate, affordable and accessible products; and their approach to influencing consumer choice and behavior. The methodology used is based on international guidelines, norms and accepted best practices.

ATNI found that, across the board, industry can do more to improve consumer access to nutritious food options. Danone, Unilever, and Nestlé were the highest-ranking companies by sizable margins. In addition, both Danone and Nestlé have been reported to be in violation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, which affected their scores. The ATNI recommends that both companies, along with other breast-milk substitute manufacturers, take immediate action to ensure full compliance with the International Code.

But even the scores of the leading companies—the highest was Danone with 6.3 on a scale to 10—demonstrate that there is significant room for improvement. And only three companies scored above 5. ATNI found that companies' practices often do not measure up to their commitments, particularly in areas such as formulating healthy products, making them more accessible to consumers and marketing them appropriately. A lack of transparency also makes it difficult for stakeholders, including investors, to evaluate companies’ nutrition practices. 

ATNI is currently supported by 40 investment organizations from around the world that collectively manage more than USD$2.6 trillion in assets. These investors have signed a statement of support for the Index. The ATNI Investor Statement recognizes health and nutrition as drivers of future growth in the food and beverage sector, and that those manufacturers that are most effective in anticipating and responding to these factors will be better positioned to deliver superior and more sustained financial performance.

Investor supporters pledge to factor F&B manufacturers’ nutrition practices into their responsible ownership activities and investment analysis; encouraging other investors to consider ATNI’s findings; and providing input into the ongoing development of ATNI

If you would like to attend a briefing on ATNI in NYC at 8.00 – 10.00am on May 8th at MSCI’s offices, please click here to register. 

For further information, and to become an investor signatory, please contact Inge Kauer, Executive Director, at inge.kauer@accesstonutrition.org

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