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 percent of Nestle’s mainstream food and drinks portfolio could not be considered healthy under a “recognised definition of health” and that “some of our categories and products will never be ‘healthy’ no matter how much we renovate”.
Nestlé, the maker of KitKats, Maggi noodles and Nescafe, describes the 3.5 star threshold as a “recognised definition of health”.
Within its overall food and drink portfolio, some 70 per cent of Nestlé’s food products failed to meet that threshold, the presentation said, along with 96 per cent of beverages – excluding pure coffee – and 99 per cent of Nestlé’s confectionery and ice cream portfolio.
Water and dairy products scored better, with 82 per cent of waters and 60 per cent of dairy meeting the threshold.
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.
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 percent, 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 percent in the past seven years and would continue to make its products healthier.