Nestle said on Monday it was working on updating its nutrition and health strategy after the Financial Times reported an internal document at the food giant described a large portion of its food and drinks as unhealthy.
The newspaper said it had seen an internal presentation circulated among top executives early this year stating that more than 60 per cent of Nestle’s mainstream food and drinks portfolio could not be considered healthy under a “recognised definition of health”.
The paper said this assessment applied to about half of Nestle’s overall portfolio because categories like medical nutrition, pet food, coffee and infant formula were excluded from the analysis.
“We have made significant improvements to our products . . . [but] our portfolio still underperforms against external definitions of health in a landscape where regulatory pressure and consumer demands are skyrocketing,” the FT report cited the internal memo.
The data excludes baby formula, pet food, coffee and the health science division, which makes foods for people with specific medical conditions, the report said.
Kepler Cheuvreux analyst Jon Cox said that including these categories would significantly reduce the proportion of products potentially considered unhealthy.
“Given the group’s confectionery, ice cream, and pizza businesses, the real figure for the group based on 2021 estimates would be 28 per cent, which is hardly a surprise,” he said in a note. He said the report could point to changes in the product portfolio, notably an exit from mainstream confectionary.
Nestle said in a statement it was working on a “company-wide project” to update its nutrition and health strategy and was looking at its entire portfolio to make sure its products helped meet people’s nutritional needs.
It said it had reduced sugars and sodium in its products by about 14-15% in the past seven years and would continue to make its products healthier.
Nestle shares were 0.2 per cent higher at 0951 GMT, broadly in line with the European food sector.