KitKat maker Nestle urged by investors to set healthier food targets

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KitKat and Shreddies maker Nestle is facing calls from a global coalition of investors to set targets to make its food healthier.

The group of 26 investors, which is responsible for more than 3 trillion US dollars (£2.64 trillion) of assets, is urging the food giant to ramp up its health performance and play its part in helping make the global population healthier.

Ahead of Nestle’s annual general shareholder meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Thursday, the investors, co-ordinated by activist shareholder group ShareAction, have asked the firm to go further on its inroads into nutrition reporting by setting goals to cut its proportion of unhealthy sales.

KitKat cereal
Nestle’s new KitKat Cereal launches across the UK this month (Nestle/PA)

The breakdown, which came after pressure from ShareAction last year, revealed that nearly 40% of the company’s sales of everyday food products in the UK were high in salt, sugar or fat.

Nestle has also announced that it will set a target to grow the proportion sales of healthy products.

But the coalition of investors said it does not believe the move goes far enough.

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.”

The group added: “Nestle needs to rebalance its sales towards healthier products.

“This will allow Nestle to fulfil its ambition ‘to be at the forefront of the industry when it comes to bringing balanced diets within reach for people around the world’.”

The plea comes as Nestle this month launches a new KitKat breakfast cereal in supermarkets across the UK, which contains 7.4g of sugar per 30g serving – or 8% of an adult’s recommended daily intake.

Nestle said KitKat Cereal is designed to be enjoyed as an “occasional, indulgent” breakfast option.

“Recent research published by the World Obesity Federation showed that more than half of the world’s population will be living with overweight or obesity by 2035 unless serious and immediate action is taken,” he said.

ShareAction has, on behalf of the investors, written to the boards of a raft of food giants ahead of their AGMs, also including Kellogg’s, Danone and Kraft Heinz, calling for more transparency and for nutrition targets to be set.

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