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India's food firms taking action to address nutrition challenges: Study

The India Access to Nutrition Spotlight Index 2020, a study by Netherlands-based Access to Nutrition Foundation (ATNF) which was released on February 28, 2020, has noted that among the 16 largest food and beverage manufacturers in India, most take action to fortify products or commit to reformulate products in line with government initiatives to address India’s nutrition challenges.

The study finds that companies are showing a greater understanding of – and a commitment to fighting – the enduring and mounting burden of malnutrition in India. However, more innovative, healthy and affordable products can and should be introduced to make a real difference for all Indians.

Hindustan Unilever and Nestle India jointly topped the ranking with a score of 6.9 out of 10 in overall terms, followed by Britannia Industries, which has shown most progress.

Dr. Rajan Sankar, director of nutrition at Tata Trusts, said, “Ten of the 13 companies, for which staple food fortification is relevant, voluntarily fortify some or all of their products according to the standards set by FSSAI.”

“This is a big improvement since 2016 when the Access to Nutrition Initiative found very few companies producing some fortified foods. FSSAI has since effectively stepped up their guidance to industry on fortification,” he added.

Inge Kauer, executive director of ATNI, says: “India, set to become the third largest consumer economy, presents an enormous opportunity for food and beverage companies to make nutrition a core part of their business plans, and to adopt comprehensive, public and commercial strategies to address issues related to the double burden of malnutrition in India.”

She said, “Reaching the goals of the Movement for more than 1.25 billion citizens in India is also a prerequisite to reaching the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, and in particular, zero hunger and good health and well-being for all.”

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