Global CPG conglomerate Nestlé has admitted that at least 60% of their food/drink products “do not meet a recognized definition of health.” In fact, based on the Australian Health Star system, only 37% of Nestlé’s food and beverage products meet a 3.5 rating or higher. It’s important to remember Nestlé is a global leader in bottled water sales, so if you backed out the water product portfolio, the percentage would be even more concerning.
What is even more disappointing is Nestlé’s leadership refused to acknowledge that processed foods tend to be unhealthy, an incredible irony given that finally the American Dietary Guidelines have even acknowledged that processed foods need to be reduced.
Finding Better Solutions
Nestlé is not the only CPG food/drink conglomerate trying to find its way with respect to balancing taste, nutrition/wellness and shareholder value. I recently sat through an online video conference where Kraft Heinz shared some of their thoughts on how they are grouping consumer needs with respect to food/drink consumption, and their segmentation includes Taste, Easy Meals, Real Food Snacking, Easy Indulgence and Hydration. Of the six segments, only Real Food Snacking implies focus on health and wellness, and even this is suspect given some of the ingredient choices and how much we know about snacking’s contribution to obesity and insulin resistance.
As consumers seek better wellness options, CPG companies are also acquiring smaller, wellness-focused brands and products at an exponential rate, such as:
- Danone bought Follow Your Heart (plant-based) in 2021
- Mars bought Kind North America in 2020
- Hershey bought Amplify Snack Brands (Skinny Pop & Oatmega) in 2018 and One Brands (Protein bars) in 2019
- Kellogg’s bought RXBar in 2017
- Hormel bought Applegate Farms in 2015
- General Mills bought Annies in 2014, Epic Provisions in 2013 and Larabar in 2008
- Campbell’s bought Boathouse Farms in 2012
We have a global problem with metabolic syndrome, including obesity, insulin resistance, Type II diabetes, heart disease, inflammation and chronic illness, that is being largely driven by dietary choices and behaviors. There are simple measures that all these CPG companies can take to offer “better for you” solutions, but most importantly, it will take leadership commitment, innovation focus and a purpose-driven approach to offering & championing solutions to chronic issues rather than more contributors.