PepsiCo has the jump on The Coca-Cola Company in the newly released Access to Nutrition Index (ATNI) that ranks 25 large food and beverage firms in terms of nutrition-related performance globally.
The ATNI – which ranks dairy and bottled water giant Danone as No.1 in 2013 – aims to encourage to increase consumer access to nutritious and affordable foods and beverages through actions related to product formulation, pricing and distribution.
The independently funded body also strives to ensure that firms responsibly exercise influence on consumer choice and behavior through marketing, labeling and promoting healthy diets and active lifestyles.
Measurable sugar targets missing
Whereas PepsiCo weighs in at No.4 in the new index (overall score 7.7/10) Coke trails in a relatively lowly ninth place (5.1/10) despite ATNI praise for its “robust governance and management” related to nutrition.
A responsible marketing policy also sees the company commit to not advertising to under 12s when children of that age make up 35%+ of the audience, while Coke wins extra brownie points for publishing its lobbying policy.
But ATNI criticizes the latter’s lack of measurable targets to cut sugar and calorie levels in products globally or to increase levels of fruits, vegetables and fiber in products.
“Given the significant reach of its products, doing so could lead to a substantial impact, particularly on sugar and calorie intake,” ATNI said.
The organization said that Coke did not support use of nutrient profiling to guide product formulation nor focus its marketing efforts on healthier products, where doing so would improve its position on the ATNI index.
In addition, Coke should consider ways to extend its initiatives related to under-nutrition, ATNI said, “principally by embedding them in its core business strategy rather than relying on philanthropic programs”
“It could also publicly disclose more information on its efforts to help address under-nutrition.”
PepsiCo’s clear nutrition and health focus
Meanwhile, PepsiCo earned its impressive No.4 rank through a clear focus on nutrition and health in its growth strategy and clear board oversight of sustainability issues, including nutrition, and “meaningful efforts to diversify its offerings and improve its nutrition practices”
The firm had also pledged to up its R&D spend on improving the nutritional profile of its portfolio and had established global targets to reformulate products, ATNI said.
Alongside strict policies on not advertising to children under six, the company only targets under-12s with healthy products, ATNI says, and addresses under-nutrition through both its core business and philanthropic foundation.
But PepsiCo could improve its performance still further by disclosing data showing its implementation of commitments to develop new healthy products, ATNI said, and also improve the accessibility of healthy and fortified products through clear pricing and distribution strategies.