WASHINGTON — Nestle USA, Danone North America, Mars, Inc. and Unilever United States have founded the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, which will focus on public policies that shape what people eat and how it impacts their health, communities and the planet.

The formation of the group comes after each company withdrew from the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Washington, a trade association that represents consumer packaged goods manufacturers.

The member companies will prioritize U.S. public policy advocacy and action in five areas: consumer transparency, the environment, food safety, nutrition, and people and communities.

Nutrition and carbon emissions will receive much attention initially. The alliance supports a definition of terms, including “healthy,” and how the terms should be used on food packages and in marketing.

The alliance will work to advance climate policies while accounting for specific business imperatives of supply chains, including farmers, ranchers and other producers. Efforts will include urging U.S. policymakers to ensure the farm bill and other farm policies address water quality and water conservation issues, soil health and renewable energy such as wind and solar. The alliance will explore the economics of sustainability, including financial incentives to reduce emissions and transition to low-carbon alternatives. The alliance will advocate for “smart, comprehensive” energy and environmental policies at the state, national and international levels. The policies include The Paris Agreement on climate change, the Clean Power Plan and other commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Consumer transparency will involve improving the quality and accessibility of information available to consumers. Food safety will involve ensuring the quality and safety of food products and the global supply chain. The alliance, in its efforts to support people and communities, will advance policies that promote a strong, diverse and healthy work place and support the supply chain, including rural economies.

"Some of the largest food companies are recognizing the need to respond to the demands of today's consumers on a range of topics, including the need for greater transparency within the food system, the nutritional quality of their products, as well as a growing awareness of the impact of food production on the planet," said Nick Fereday, executive director of food and consumer trends for Rabobank, New York.