Nestle is being urged to cut the proportion of unhealthy food it sells and “play its part” for global health.
Investor group ShareAction said 40% of Nestle’s sales of everyday foods in the UK were high in salt, sugar or fat.
Nestle said its reporting on the healthiness of its global sales was a world first and pledged to set a target for healthier sales later this year.
But ShareAction said it also wanted Nestle to reduce the amount of unhealthier foods it sells.
Nestle is the world’s biggest food company and owns brands like KitKat and Shreddies.
In April, it launched a new KitKat breakfast cereal in supermarkets across the UK. It contains 7.4g of sugar per 30g serving. This is higher than the recommended average refined sugar intake per meal for adults.
Nestle said KitKat cereal was designed to be enjoyed as an “occasional, indulgent” breakfast option.
ShareAction, which lobbies for ethical investing, has co-ordinated calls from some 26 investors – who have more than £2.64 trillion in assets.
It comes ahead of Nestle’s annual shareholders’ meeting on Thursday.
Simon Rawson, deputy chief executive of ShareAction, said: “Nestle has said it wants to sell healthier food, but it hasn’t given assurances that it will also address its less healthy food sales, which is essential to turn the tide against the harmful effects of diet-related ill health.”
He added that the Swiss food giant needed to “rebalance” its sales to bring balanced diets “within reach for people around the world”.
A spokesperson for Nestle said it had set a new standard in corporate transparency in March.
“We are the first company to report on the nutritional value of our entire global portfolio against a single externally recognised, nutrient profiling scheme,” they added in a statement.
‘Overweight or obese’
Mr Rawson said recent research from the World Obesity Federation showed more than half of the world’s population would be overweight or obese by 2035, unless “serious and immediate” action was taken.
ShareAction has written to the boards of various food firms including Kellogg’s, Danone and Kraft Heinz, calling for more transparency and for nutrition targets to be set.
Nestle, which also manufactures Buxton mineral water and Nescafe coffee, said in February it was taking a “massive” hit to its profits as the price of food ingredients reached record highs.
Soaring food prices led to inflation falling by less than expected in March.
Source : BBC