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How do you respond to the New York Times’ recent articles on the food industry?

The New York Times' recent series of articles on the food industry has raised some important issues, but left a misleading impression of how Nestlé is serving people worldwide.

At Nestlé, we are playing our part to enable healthier and happier lives by improving the nutritional value of our products, promoting healthy lifestyles and collaborating with leading experts to help parents, caregivers and teachers foster healthy behaviors.

We are making huge efforts to reformulate our global product portfolio to reduce ingredients like sugar, salt and fat, and increase the ingredients and nutrients that are key to a healthy diet such as protein, fruit, wholegrain, vitamins and minerals.

Working with stakeholders such as ministries of health or education, we’re rolling-out various children’s nutrition initiatives like Nestlé Healthy Kids – to help millions of children develop good eating habits, learn about healthy diets and physical activities.

In addition, Nestlé follows strict standards regarding advertising and marketing to children and does not advertise to children under six years of age.

By helping to fund research, we are contributing to a better understanding of dietary patterns to allow people to make healthier choices about what they eat and drink.

In Malaysia and around the world, our contribution to society is driven by our purpose of enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future.


What is Nestlé’s involvement in nutrition science in Malaysia?

The New York Times article focuses on research published by the Nutrition Society of Malaysia on nutrition among schoolchildren. As with any type of scientific research, our involvement in this study was to ensure that the methodology used is scientifically correct. Nestlé approaches all research transparently, and applies strict standards to ensure its integrity.


What did the study conducted by the Nutrition Society of Malaysia involve?

The scientific findings of the MyBreakfast study highlight the fact that children who drank malted drinks had a similar total energy intake but a higher micronutrient intake compared to those who do not. They also had higher physical activity levels.


How can you position Milo as a healthy product?

Milo products are made with simple ingredients such as milk, malt barley, sugar and cocoa. We’re continuously improving Milo products by reducing sugar (5% across the whole range by 2020). We also encourage caregivers to prepare the powder with powdered milk and water, not sweetened condensed milk.

Malt-based Milo products include vitamins and minerals to meet kids’ nutritional needs and the brand is well known to promote physical activity.

Children should only enjoy Milo as part of a balanced diet, as per our commitment to launch more nutritious products for kids. All Milo beverages meet the strict EU Pledge Nutrition Criteria (pdf, 2Mb).


Even though you’ve added wholegrain, your cereals still contain sugar, don’t they?

In a bowl of Nestlé Breakfast cereal, there is a lot more good stuff – grains, vitamins and minerals – than sugar.

Since 2003, we have made whole grain the number one ingredient in most of our cereals, adding 28 billion servings of whole grain to people’s diets, reduced sugar by 30% and removed 8,000 tonnes of salt. The majority of our cereals are also fortified with at least vitamins and two minerals, calcium and iron.


Is it appropriate to advertise Nestlé cereal products in an educational pamphlet on whole grain?

The educational leaflet on wholegrain mentioned in the New York Times article was published in 2012 to reach nutrition experts and caregivers. Wholegrain is the No.1 ingredient in the breakfast cereals that appear in the leaflet. We will continue to evaluate our communication practices to ensure they always remain consistent with the intention to promote better nutrition and healthy diet.


What is your policy on marketing brands such as Koko Krunch, Honey Stars and Milo to children?

None of the commercials cited in the New York Times article broke our strict Policy on Marketing Communication to Children, a further revised version (pdf, 2Mb) of which will be effective from January 2018.

We do not advertise to children under six, and only market products to 6-12s that help them achieve a healthy balanced diet. We only use licensed characters with such products to promote healthy, active lifestyles or if the characters have broad family appeal.

All Nestlé Breakfast Cereal brands for kids and teens and Milo beverage meet the EU Pledge Nutrition Criteria. Whole grain is the main ingredient in all our cereals popular with kids and teens, for example. Products sold in primary schools must meet EU Pledge criteria, other regionally or nationally agreed pledges, or Nestlé Nutritional Foundation (pdf, 2Mb) criteria, whichever is stronger.


How do programmes like Nestlé Healthy Kids encourage nutrition and physical activity in schools?

Nestlé Healthy Kids reaches over 8 million children a year in 84 countries. We work with partner organisations to raise nutrition and health knowledge among schoolchildren, and encourage them to eat healthily and be active. Nestlé Healthy Kids is not a marketing vehicle, as it does not involve any product brands. The audience for communications on the program is nutrition experts and caregivers.

We also run initiatives with our brands that are requested by, or agreed with, schools and endorsed by national authorities. For example, Milo has run approved grassroots sports programmes for over 30 years to encourage kids to enjoy physical activity early in life.

In Malaysia specifically, Milo has partnered with the Malaysia School Sports Council (MSSM) to nurture national sporting talent, and over 12,000 young Malaysians take part in the programmes each year.


How do you monitor your policy on marketing to children?

Nestlé is committed to responsible marketing to children, and we monitor compliance with our policy in all the markets where we operate. We’ve established internal guidelines and yearly audits to ensure our employees follow the policy, and run targeted training sessions with our marketing teams globally.

We also voluntarily apply marketing standards established by the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA), whereby Accenture performs third-party audits of our activities. In 2016, our compliance rate was 100% for print and online advertising, and 97% for television advertising.

We encourage people to report potential non-compliance with our Policy on ‘Markerting Communication to Children’ using our formal reporting system Tell Us.


What are you doing to make your products even healthier?

Nestlé’s purpose is enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future, and our 2030 global ambition is to help 50 million children lead healthier lives. One way we will achieve this is by supporting individuals and their families with healthier food choices.

Between 2014 and 2016, we reduced added sugars in our products by 8% (39,000 tonnes) globally, and reduced sodium by 10% (2,700 tonnes) over this period. We also reduced saturated fatty acids by 6.5% (6,200 tonnes). In 2016 we sold 207 billion micronutrient-fortified product servings.

Since 2003 we’ve reduced sugar by 30% in our breakfast cereals globally, removed 8,000 tonnes of salt and added 28 billion servings of wholegrain to people’s diets.

By 2020, we’re committed to reducing added sugars by 5% to help people meet WHO recommendations.


What are you doing specifically to make products sold in Malaysia even healthier?

We’ve removed one third of the sugar and increased wholegrain levels by 40% in our leading breakfast cereal brand in Malaysia, Koko Krunch (also sold in other markets worldwide), since 2012. By the end of 2018, a 30g serving of Koko Krunch will contain only 1.5 teaspoons of sugar (7.5g), and up to 30% of the recommended daily intakes of calcium, iron, phosphorus and five B-vitamins.

In Malaysia, all Milo products meet the Malaysian Ministry of Health’s strict Healthier Choice nutritional criteria (pdf, 2Mb). Nestlé is continuously improving Milo products by reducing sugar (5% across the whole range by 2020), and adding essential vitamins and minerals to meet nutritional needs.


How much does Nestlé invest in research to develop healthier products?

In 2016, Nestlé invested CHF 1.7 billion in science-based nutrition research, including large-scale projects to better understand kids’ nutrition and improve our products. We have 40 R&D centres worldwide, and our two research centres – the Nestlé Research Centre (NRC), and Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences – are the focal points.

In fact, over 60% of our Research and Development budget is spent on making products tastier and healthier.

Globally, we’re working hard to help tackle obesity and under nutrition. We work with nutrition and public health experts and academic institutions to build, share and apply our nutritional knowledge, and contribute to a healthier future. The Nestlé Nutrition Institute shares information through acclaimed scientific workshops and symposia.


What role can Nestlé play in tackling public health issues?

The United Nations supports a multi-stakeholder approach to solving global nutrition and health challenges, and acknowledges the positive role business can play. We also support this approach.

Nestlé can help by delivering better nutrition, encouraging healthier diets, increasing physical activity and promoting health and wellness initiatives – in Malaysia and worldwide.

We were the first company to develop policies to reduce fat, sugar and salt in our products, and we continue to develop products that are both tastier and healthier.

We were ranked as the No.1 food and beverage company globally under the nutrition category of the 2016 Access to Nutrition Index - ATNI (pdf, 2Mb) . Discussing our work to provide people with healthy, affordable nutrition, the index states: “One company stands out as the clear leader – Nestlé.”


What other research or studies do you do on nutrition?

Our nutrition researchers work alongside leading academic institutions to advance collective knowledge, improve our offerings and push our company and our industry to address nutrition challenges. Nestlé is one of the world’s leading private publishers of nutritional information.

As well as acquiring information on a broad range of nutrition-related topics, the Nestlé Nutrition Institute also shares information through the acclaimed scientific workshops and symposia we organize and host internationally.

Nestlé approaches all research transparently, and applies strict standards to ensure its integrity.


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