Nestlé Faces Shareholder Pressure to Reduce Reliance on Unhealthy Products

by Ella

A consortium of Nestlé shareholders has submitted a resolution ahead of the company’s upcoming annual meeting, urging the food giant to decrease its dependence on unhealthy products. The shareholders argue that Nestlé’s current health targets are inadequate and call for the implementation of internationally recognized standards to address regulatory, reputational, and public health concerns.

Institutional investors, collectively managing assets worth $1.68 trillion, have voiced their concerns over Nestlé’s product portfolio, emphasizing the need for a tangible commitment to reducing the proportion of sales derived from unhealthy goods. Catherine Howarth, Chief Executive of ShareAction—an investment non-profit spearheading the initiative—asserted that despite Nestlé’s previous health targets, the company has failed to outline a clear strategy for transitioning towards healthier food options.


Nestlé’s health targets, announced last year, aimed to increase sales of “more nutritious” products by 50% by 2030. However, shareholders argue that this target does not address the fundamental issue of reducing the proportion of total sales derived from unhealthy products. They highlight that the current sales target aligns with Nestlé’s overall growth objectives and does not necessarily result in a decline in the sale of unhealthy items.


Critics also point out discrepancies in Nestlé’s definition of “healthy” products, citing the inclusion of items with minimal nutritional value, such as coffee, in the company’s health target. Additionally, the incorporation of products from Nestlé’s specialized nutrition portfolio, such as baby food, raises concerns among shareholders about the effectiveness of the company’s health strategy.


Nestlé currently employs the Health Star Rating (HSR) system, developed by the Australian government, to assess the nutritional quality of its products. However, shareholders urge the company to adopt standardized benchmarks, such as those utilized by the Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI), to enhance transparency and comparability.


Despite mounting pressure from shareholders and advocacy groups, Nestlé maintains its stance, asserting that it has taken proactive measures to improve the nutritional value of its product portfolio. A Nestlé spokesperson defended the company’s position, highlighting its commitment to transparency and innovation in addressing public health concerns.

As shareholder engagement intensifies and scrutiny over Nestlé’s health initiatives persists, the company faces mounting pressure to revise its strategy and align with stakeholders’ expectations. The outcome of the upcoming annual meeting will likely shape Nestlé’s approach to addressing concerns surrounding the nutritional quality of its products and its impact on public health.



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