Nestlé’s future may involve healthier snacks

In a reversal of the famous slogan, Nestlé’s shareholders are telling the company to take a break from the KitKats. 

Driving the news: Nestlé is facing demands from its shareholders to sell more nutritious foods. The coalition is led by a responsible investing charity that has criticized the world’s biggest food maker for relying too “heavily on sales of less healthy foods.”

  • The group alleges that 75% of Nestlé’s sales are unhealthy. Nestlé denies this and says indulgent foods are part of people’s lives and can be consumed in moderation.
  • Other big food names, including Kraft Heinz, Unilever, Kellogg, PepsiCo, and Coca-Cola, have been hit with similar shareholder pressures in recent years.

Why it matters: As obesity rates and health issues stemming from poor nutrition climb around the world, food manufacturers are coming under scrutiny. Between the pressure from shareholders and governments, these companies could be forced to make healthier products.

  • Dozens of countries in the past decade, including the U.K., Mexico, and parts of the U.S., have cut consumption of high-sugar soft drinks by introducing new taxes.

  • In Canada, the feds have restricted junk food advertising, banned some sources of trans fats, and introduced labelling requirements for foods high in sodium, sugars, or saturated fat. 

Yes, but: Healthy food is often expensive. In 2022, amid the biggest spike in food prices in over 40 years, 30% of Canadians said they had to turn to unhealthier options.—LA