A number of global trends – including growing world population, urbanisation, rising incomes, and an increase in the number of people living beyond 60 years – have an impact on nutritional habits and health.
These trends can improve dietary choice for some people, but are also marked by increases in the number of people adopting less nutritionally-balanced diets and more sedentary lifestyles. These choices lead to over-nutrition and related non-communicable diseases at one extreme. At the other, under-nutrition, including micronutrient deficiencies and associated disorders, persist.
Under- and over-nutrition currently affect the health, wellness and livelihoods of nearly half the world's population – irreversibly impairing the physical and mental development of infants and children, increasing illness and premature death among all age groups and decreasing personal and national productivity.
Many forms of malnutrition
In many developing countries, people effectively bear a ‘double burden' of malnutrition, with undernutrition (comprising protein-energy malnutrition and micronutrient malnutrition) and overnutrition (overweight and obesity) occurring simultaneously. In general, people in lower income groups around the world are at higher risk of suffering malnutrition in any form.
In line with our Good Food, Good Life promise, Nestlé aims to lead industry efforts to help ensure consumers everywhere have the right choice and availability to be optimally nourished and consequently enjoy good health and personal wellness.
Every individual has what nutrition scientists call a 'maximal physical and mental functioning potential trajectory' for life, which is genetically predetermined (this is shown as a blue line in the graphic below); however 'sub-optimal nutrition and lifestyle' during our time in the womb or during infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood gradually erodes our physical and mental function (shown as a red line in our graphic) resulting in impaired health, independence, quality of life and ultimately premature death.
Promoting optimal Nutrition, Health and Wellness throughout the life course
Our 'optimal Nutrition, Health and Wellness' goal
Nestlé's goal is to help consumers attain and maintain optimal nutrition, health and wellness, which is why we're working continuously to improve our understanding of nutritional and health needs during the most critical early life stages – the first 1,000 days, growth and development stages during infancy, childhood and adolescence – and to use this understanding to develop appropriate products and services, beginning by supporting the WHO recommendation of six months exclusive breastfeeding as the best nutritional start in life.
Helping consumers avoid under-nutrition
Our efforts to help consumers avoid under-nutrition focus mainly on preventing micronutrient malnutrition through vitamin and mineral fortification of Nestlé foods, especially our Popularly Positioned Products (PPPs) – high-quality food products that provide nutritional value at an affordable cost and appropriate format. We prioritise the needs of young children and women of child-bearing age in countries where micronutrient deficiencies are most prevalent and fortify the products preferred by these vulnerable groups to address specific local needs.
Helping consumers avoid over-nutrition
We work at helping consumers avoid becoming overweight or obese and developing related non-communicable diseases (such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers) in several ways. We aim to help educate them about their nutritional needs by improving the information about ingredients and portion size we provide on our products. We also support other initiatives and promote better hydration along with the benefits of physical activity.
Using rigorous nutritional criteria as part of our 60/40+ approach – ensuring our products are preferred against competitor products in blind taste tests and bringing relevant nutrition advantage – we are working continuously to improve the levels of essential nutrients in our products, while also lowering their saturated fat, sugar and salt content, to offer our consumers the tastiest and healthiest choices.
Our Nutrition, Health and Wellness principles
Our Corporate Business Principles define the way we operate. We have ten principles, covering all aspects of our business, including: Nutrition, Health and Wellness (NHW); quality assurance and product safety; and consumer communication.
The number one aim of our Corporate Business Principles is “to enhance the quality of consumers’ lives every day, everywhere, by offering tastier and healthier food and beverage choices and encouraging a healthy lifestyle”. We express this via our corporate proposition ‘Good Food, Good Life’.
Our Nutrition, Health and Wellness strategy
Our NHW strategy is based on the belief that consumer choice will increasingly be driven by nutritional awareness and the desire for improved health and wellness, and that being responsible and innovative will drive sustainable growth.
Governance and oversight
A well established governance structure ensures that all our NHW policies, objectives and activities are implemented in line with our Corporate Business Principles.
Our Executive Board sets direction and monitors our NHW performance indicators. Ultimate organisational responsibility rests with our CEO, Paul Bulcke.
The Nestlé Nutrition Council – an independent council of internationally recognised experts, chaired by Executive Vice President Werner Bauer – meets regularly to discuss and advise our senior management on how we can best address key NHW issues including childhood obesity, diabetes and micronutrient malnutrition.
We are concerned, as are others, by the increasing burden that non-communicable diseases place on healthcare systems around the world. A concerted effort, involving scientists, academics, consumers, health leaders, the food and beverage industry and both national and international authorities is most certainly required to resolve this issue. We are contributing to the debate and the search for solutions through collaborations with universities, start-ups, key suppliers and other partners, at every stage of the product development process.
Employee training and engagement
As part of our overall commitment to continuous training and learning, Nestlé’s NQ (Nutrition Quotient) training programme equips our people with the right nutrition skills and insights to make informed choices for themselves and their families, and make enlightened business decisions.
All employees undertake a general Foundation Module, while those with product development or product communication responsibilities attend advanced and specialised workshops.
The programme already includes 18 different modules, each representing between four to 15 hours of learning. We make sure the trainee experience is engaging and interactive to optimize learning. This also allows us to know how many people were actually trained. More than 226,000 employees around the world have undergone NQ training since the programme was launched mid-2007.
Over the past 5.5 years, we have ourselves developed a deeper understanding of the need for various self-paced or combined learning options. To supplement workshop sessions and e-learning modules, we developed an innovative approach for our harder-to-reach audiences, such as factory-based employees and their families. Based on a specially designed educational poster series, combined with work site activities and creative handouts for the employee and his/her family, this approach aims to make nutrition learning more meaningful and applicable in daily life. An additional 19,000 employees in 18 different countries went through the full cycle during 2012.
Since nutrition training must be a continuous effort to bear fruit, follow-up campaigns and tools are deployed regularly, with 57,149 past trainees having received such boosters in 2012.