Incentivizing production of healthy and nutritious foods
On May 5th, 2020 the Private Sector Mechanism had the opportunity to virtually meet with the Food Systems Summit Special Envoy Madame Agnes Kalibata. Five members of the Mechanism were able to make statements on potential action pathways.
Below you will see the address presented by Mr. Rocco Renaldi. Mr. Renaldi is the Secretary General of the International Food and Beverage Alliance. He took the opportunity to speak on incentivizing the production of healthy and nutritious foods.
The International Food & Beverage Alliance has made a set of commitments to improve global health and nutrition, applicable to its 12 member companies worldwide. They are about:
1. Improving the nutrition of our products, through progressive reduction of saturated fat, sugar and salt, while increasing beneficial ingredients, as well as working on portion sizes. In addition, we have completed phasing out industrially produced transfats and we are working with the WHO to achieve this across the global food supply by 2023.
2. Implementing a common responsible marketing policy globally, with particular attention to children.
3. Providing clear, transparent nutrition information to consumers on product labels, including on front of pack, as well as online and at point-of-sale.
4. Supporting healthy lifestyle programs at the workplace and in communities.
These commitments reflect the mandate to the private sector set out in the 2018 UN Political Declaration on NCDs, and we believe these will remain the most impactful areas for food industry action on nutrition and health.
We are cognizant of the need to address nutrition through a holistic food systems lens. By definition, “system” means that no actor operates in a silo and everything is interconnected. This is why IFBA’s commitments have been shaped through ongoing stakeholder dialogue at all levels.
In our experience this multi-stakeholder dialogue and cooperation is fundamental to shaping solutions that work. And this is the fundamental message that we would like to share in view of your work towards the 2021 Summit: we need to co-create solutions. There will be opposing views and there will be trade-offs, but these need to be put on the table, addressed, managed and overcome.
This point is particularly important for the specific pathway of incentivising the production and consumption of healthy and nutritious food products, because more often than not in this area we look for supply-side solutions, measures that governments can more easily mandate, and companies implement autonomously. Supply-side measures should indeed be part of the equation, but will often falter if taken in isolation, if we don’t work on demand at the same time. In other words, you can’t push a chain. A careful mix of push and pull, of supply- and demand-side interventions is required.
To make one example: our most successful reformulation programs, e.g. on salt reduction, have been in countries where five key principles have been observed:
1. Government has taken the lead and corralled the whole private sector around a table
2. Academia has advised and civil society has helped hold the parties accountable
3. Nutrition targets have been ambitious yet realistic and gradual, i.e. set in full knowledge of the marketplace
4. Consumer preferences – the demand-side – have been actively shaped through investment in nutrition information, awareness-raising and education
5. Regular and transparent stock-taking of progress and obstacles has been integral to the process
In essence, an effective approach is one that is government-led but co-created with the key food system players.
Madame Kalibata, we have a wealth of experience and examples that we can contribute to inform your deliberations and we look forward to assisting you in your important work leading up to the Summit as you will see fit.