Nestle commits to nutritional improvement, product diversification

by Max Sosland
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Nestle Creating Shared Value report
 Nestle's 2015 Creating Shared Value Report outlines the company’s advances in improving the nutrition of its food and beverages and identifies specific goals the company has established for achieving nutritional improvement.

GLENDALE, CALIF. — Nestle USA continues to make progress toward improving the nutritional value of its food and beverage products that do not meet its Nutritional Foundation (N.F.) criteria, according to the company’s 2015 Creating Shared Value Report. The N.F. criteria are based on international health authorities, such as the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), as well as local authorities.

Paul Grimwood, chairman and chief executive officer of Nestle USA, briefly expressed the core themes the company is attempting to address, especially nutritional improvement, in an introductory message.

Paul Grimwood, Nestle
Paul Grimwood, chairman and c.e.o. of Nestle USA

“For the past 10 years we have worked to reduce sugar, sodium and saturated fat and remove trans fat from our products without sacrificing taste,” Mr. Grimwood said.

The Creating Shared Value Report outlines the company’s advances in improving the nutrition of its food and beverages and identifies specific goals the company has established for achieving nutritional improvement. An area Nestle is focused on is sugar reduction in its products. The report noted Nestle’s commitment to helping consumers meet the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (D.G.A.) recommendation to consume less than 10% of daily calories from added sugars. By the end of 2016 Nestle has set a target of an average of at least a 10% reduction from 2013 levels over a three-year period (2014-2016). The challenge that the report acknowledged is to continue meeting consumers’ taste standards while providing more nutritious foods and beverages.

In the report, Nestle said it has set a goal to remove artificial flavors and cut sodium in its products, specifically within its pizza and snacks portfolio. In 2015, 250 products across six pizza and snacks brands in the United States took sizable steps toward improvement. The improvements included removing artificial flavors from every product within the brands, reducing sodium by an average of 10% across the entire portfolio compared to 2013 numbers, and incorporating packaging guidance educating and assisting consumers regarding portion sizes and balanced plates. 

The progress in the pizza and snacks brands represent Nestle’s greater goal of reducing sodium levels by an average of at least 10% from 2012 levels over a four-year period. The company achieved a reduction of sodium levels by 7.4% toward the 10% objective by the end of 2015.

Nestle also noted in the report its objective of reducing saturated fats levels and the removal of trans fat. Nestle set a goal to have zero foods or beverages containing trans fats originating from partially hydrogenated oils (pho) in functional ingredients. Saturated fats, which are fats generally found in animal fat products and a few plant sources, will be reduced by an average of at least 10% from 2013 levels over a three-year period (2013-2016), Nestle said. As an example, Nestle cited the reformulation of the Coffee-Mate creamer brand, where the goal was achieved by transitioning from pho to a high oleic soybean oil called Plenish.

“In addition to having 0 grams of trans fat, high oleic soybean oil is more stable and is lower in saturated fat compared to commodity soybean oil,” Nestle said. 

To improve its role in addressing consumers’ health and wellness, Nestle set a number of goals regarding consumer education in the report. Through the Nestle Portion Guidance, an initiative set out by the company, consumers are encouraged to adopt smaller portion sizes. This initiative to reduce portion sizes is designed to redefine typical portion size considerations, especially for energy-dense foods and beverages. Nestle offers portion controlled options across its U.S. portfolio and provide portion guidance to simply and clearly communicate moderate portions. Efforts instituted by Nestle to encourage the goal include redesigning packaging and products, such as its Thoughtful Portion box of the Nutritional Compass on products. More than 400 labels in the company’s confections portfolio alone incorporates Thoughtful Portion advice. By 2017 Nestle said it hopes to provide portion guidance on 100% of relevant food and beverage products.

While addressing the issues of nutrition, health and wellness, Nestle acknowledged its need to adapt to consumers’ changing tastes and preferences. The company said it increased production of products that are gluten-free and made with organic ingredients, in addition to the removal of artificial flavors and colors from artificial sources. Nestle established these changes across several of its popular brands. The removal of artificial flavors and colors from artificial sources was implemented across the entire chocolate confections portfolio and the majority of the Nestle Toll House line. Artificial flavors also were removed from Nestle’s pizza and snacks portfolio, including brands such as DiGiorno pizza and Tombstone pizza.

Nestle also changed various product recipes and packaging designs to address the growing desire among consumers to avoid products made with bioengineered ingredients. The company has renovated products with no bioengineered ingredients even though the company acknowledged and agreed with the scientific bodies and regulatory agencies declaring bioengineered crops as safe.

Nestle products with no artificial ingredients - Toll House chocolate, Butterfinger, Digiorno pizza
Nestle removed artificial flavors and colors from artificial sources across its entire chocolate confections portfolio and the majority of the Nestle Toll House line. Artificial flavors also were removed from Nestle’s pizza and snacks portfolio, including brands such as DiGiorno pizza and Tombstone pizza.

“We agree with numerous scientific bodies and regulatory agencies (National Academy of Sciences, World Health Organization and F.D.A. to name a few) that foods made with ingredients from G.M.O. crops are as safe as foods made from conventional crops,” Nestle said in the report. “G.M.O. crops are rigorously tested in consultation with the F.D.A. and U.S.D.A. before they reach the market.”

There is still a large consumer market that prefers foods that do not contain bioengineered ingredients and want to be able to identify products that contain bioengineered ingredients. To address this change in consumer preference toward no bioengineered ingredients, Nestle said it will add products without bioengineered ingredients to its U.S. food and beverage portfolio. In 2015, Nestle launched six Lean Cuisine products with a label stating “No G.M.O. Ingredients” to certify them as made with organic ingredients. The Lean Cuisine brand also introduced various recipes featuring no preservatives, organic ingredients, whole grains, vegetables, and high protein, in addition to no bioengineered ingredients. Nestle plans to expand the number of organic, non-bioengineered and gluten-free choices across popular product categories and brands.

Nestle Lean Cuisine meals made with no G.M.O.s
Nestle launched six Lean Cuisine products with a label stating “No G.M.O. Ingredients” to certify them as made with organic ingredients.

The report also described Nestle’s substantial investment in nutrition and health research. Nestle invested $1.7 billion globally in research and development, predominantly in the food and beverage industry, in 2015. The goal of the R.&D. centers across the United States, as described in the report, is to address the growing and changing diversity of food preferences while improving the nutrition of its products.

For the full report, click here.    
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