Nestlé says over half of its traditional packaged food business is not ‘healthy’ in an internal presentation to top executives, according to a report

Nestle
Nestle candy products are displayed the company’s news conference in New York.

  • The majority of Nestlé’s traditional food and drinks do not meet a “recognised definition of health.”
  • Just 37% of its consumer food and beverage products meet international health standards.
  • The global food company acknowledged the issue in an internal presentation seen by the Financial Times.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

More than 60% of Nestlé’s traditional packaged consumer food and beverage products do not meet an internationally recognized health standard, according to internal company documents seen by the Financial Times.

“Some of our categories and products will never be ‘healthy’ no matter how much we renovate,” the company said in a presentation seen by top executives at the world’s largest food conglomerate.

CEO Mark Schneider told Bloomberg in September that the company is making continued investments in the healthiness of its products, but “confectionary and chocolate address a deep human need and are going to be here to stay.

The definition of “healthy” comes from the Australian health star rating system, which scores products on a five-star scale and is used by international researchers including the Access to Nutrition Foundation. A product must score at least 3.5 stars to be considered healthy.

Metrics like the health star system “enable consumers to make informed choices. However, they don’t capture everything,” a company spokesperson said in a statement to Insider. “About half of our sales are not covered by these systems. That includes categories such as infant nutrition, specialized health products and pet food, which follow regulated nutrition standards.”

“We believe that a healthy diet means finding a balance between well-being and enjoyment. This includes having some space for indulgent foods, consumed in moderation,” the spokesperson added.

The presentation highlighted the stats of some of the most unhealthy products made and sold by Nestlé-owned brands.

A serving of Hot Pockets pepperoni pizza packs a whopping 48 percent of the daily sodium allowance, followed closely by DiGiorno’s three meat croissant crust pizza, which has 40 percent. To pair saltiness with sweetness, Nestlé also offers an orange-flavored San Pellegrino drink with 7.1g of sugar per 100ml, and Nesquik’s strawberry-flavored milk powder with 14g of sugar in a 14g serving.

“Strawberry Nesquik is perfect at breakfast to get kids ready for the day,” Nestlé says in its marketing text for the product.

“We have made significant improvements to our products … [but] our portfolio still underperforms against external definitions of health in a landscape where regulatory pressure and consumer demands are skyrocketing,” the presentation said.

Professor Marion Nestle (no relation), who researches nutritional science at Cornell, told the FT that a healthy portfolio is likely out of reach for large publicly traded companies like Nestlé.

“Food companies’ job is to generate money for stockholders, and to generate it as quickly and in as large an amount as possible,” she said. “They are going to sell products that reach a mass audience and are bought by as many people as possible, that people want to buy, and that’s junk food.”

“Nestlé is a very smart company, at least from my meetings with people who are in their science [departments] … but they have a real problem,” she added. “Scientists have been working for years to try to figure out how to reduce the salt and sugar content without changing the flavor profile and guess what, it’s hard to do.”

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CVS is investing in healthy food and Beyond Meat burgers, which could drastically improve quality food choices to Americans in “food deserts”

beyond meat cvs
CVS has more locations nationwide than Walmart and Kroger combined.

  • CVS is bringing Beyond Meat to 7,000 stores and increasing gluten-free, vegan snacks and foods.
  • CVS, which has more US stores than Walmart and Kroger combined, could better serve “food deserts.”
  • “CVS is ubiquitous in neighborhoods and communities across America,” Beyond Meat told Insider.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

CVS is bringing healthy foods and meat-alternatives to communities across America.

The pharmacy chain and Beyond Meat just announced a partnership that would bring meat-alternative burgers and meatballs to 7,000 stores nationwide. CVS will also add 60 new “better for you” snacks and 50 new frozen foods that are vegan, organic, gluten-free, plant based, and zero-sugar-added.

Now valued at $8.7 billion, Beyond Meat became the first plant-based meat-substitute company to go public just two years ago. The company has continued to expand by partnering with McDonald’s and Taco Bell, as traditional meat seller Tyson rushes to catch up with its own plant-based line.

The deal may suggest Beyond Meat decreasing its reliance on foodservice. Foodservice sales through restaurants that sell Beyond Meat, including Carl’s Jr. and BurgerFi, dropped 31% year-over-year in 2020, CEO Ethan Brown said on a recent earnings call.

Revenue from retail, however, increased by 108% between 2019 and 2020, but Brown said the trend will drop in 2021 as the pandemic subsides. “We’ve got a lot of room still to grow in retail,” Brown said.

The CVS partnership, which represented the first pharmacy Beyond Meat sold at, could be its first step into retail growth.

“CVS is ubiquitous in neighborhoods and communities across America, and Beyond Meat is proud to partner with them as our first pharmacy partner to bring increased choice and access to nutritious food options to their consumers,” a Beyond Meat spokesperson told Insider. “The addition of the Beyond Burger and Beyond Meatballs at CVS aligns with CVS’ larger effort to help its millions of customers make healthier choices.”

How bringing Beyond Meat to CVS could bring meat-alternatives to food deserts.

CVS sells more groceries than Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, the Guardian reported, due to the store’s prevalence in low-income areas that don’t have access to high-end grocery stores.

CVS has nearly 10,000 locations in the US, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Kroger, the company’s largest supermarket, has just 2,750 locations. Walmart, the country’s largest retailer, has 5,342 stores as of January 2021 – meaning CVS has more stores than Kroger and Walmart combined.

The lack of quality grocery stores in disproportionately low-income areas result in “food deserts,” or areas more than a mile from fresh produce-sellers that rely more on processed and pre-packaged food.

Diets that limit processed foods and sugary beverages are associated with higher life expectancy. But there’s twice as many supermarkets carrying fresh produce in higher-income areas than lower-income ones, per non-profit World of Vegan, and just 2% of meat alternatives are available in low-income areas.

Nutritionists told Insider’s Aria Bendix that Beyond Meat, though processed and just as caloric as beef burgers, is high in fiber and protein, and can provide a better alternative to red meat. Beyond Meat can also lead to fewer instances of food poisoning than when consuming beef.

Bringing Beyond Meat and other “better for you” snack options to CVS locations might lessen the reliance on junk food in “food deserts.” Better access to nutritional food would be most beneficial to Black and Latino Americans, whose communities have fewer supermarkets than their white counterparts, per Johns Hopkins.

“The expanded assortment of food items is the latest way we serve as a premier health and wellness destination, making it easier for millions of customers to access healthier choices and meal solutions without having to make extra trips to specialty and grocery stores,” a CVS spokesperson said in a statement.

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Consumer groups ask the FDA to mandate nutritional information on DoorDash and other online delivery platforms

nutrition label
  • The American Heart Association and other groups are asking for nutrition labels on ordering apps.
  • The FDA says restaurants that fall under current labeling rules already list the information online.
  • DoorDash says restaurants can add the information to menus in the app.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Scientists and consumers groups sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking it to require that third-party online ordering services provide nutritional information.

The letter, addressed to FDA director Dr. Susan Mayne, asks the agency to extend existing rules on labeling to platforms like DoorDash, Seamless, and Uber Eats. “Guidance should make clear that both chain restaurants and TPPs (third-party platforms) are responsible for complying with the nutrition labeling requirements,” the letter says.

Read more: We mapped out the ghost kitchens run by ex-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s CloudKitchen and competitor REEF Technology. See where the war for ghost kitchen dominance is heating up.

Current FDA labeling regulations apply to restaurants that have 20 or more locations, a spokesperson told Insider.

“FDA recognizes that the dining landscape has changed considerably since the menu labeling requirements were passed into law in 2010, especially with the rise of third-party websites and delivery apps to provide convenient options for ordering to dine at home,” a spokesperson told Insider by email.

“Though many third-party online ordering websites likely would not meet the definition of a covered establishment under our current requirements, and therefore would not be subject to menu labeling requirements, we encourage third-party websites and delivery apps to provide important nutrition information for the menu items offered on their platform. “

The FDA also says that many restaurants available for online include menus with nutritional information. “We encourage consumers to look directly on the restaurant or other covered establishment’s websites for nutrition information for their favorite menu items.”

This isn’t enough for the letter’s signers, which include the American Heart Association, Consumer Reports, Center for Science in the Public Interest, and others.

“For the menu labeling requirements established under the ACA to have their intended impact, consumers must have easy access to the labeled information,” the letter says. It argues that consumers need access to nutritional information at the point of ordering, and many of the benefits of labeling are lost if access involves extra steps.

DoorDash says restaurants can add nutritional information in the description field of menu items.

“We work hard to enable customers to have access to the most up-to-date and accurate menu information, which is why we provide partners on our platform with the ability to enter and edit menu information directly, including nutritional information. We welcome the opportunity to engage with policymakers and stakeholders on this and other important issues impacting our industry.”

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A dietitian explains which non-dairy milk is best for you

Following is a transcript of the video.

Groetch: The rice milk and the coconut milk and the almond milk are very low in protein. So if you’re looking to get a protein source like a vegetarian or plant-based protein source, these are not very good.

Narrator: That’s registered dietician Marion Groetch. Today she’s gonna help us sort through all of these different non-dairy milks and tell us which ones might just be better for you.

In the last several years, the market for non-dairy milks has exploded, and that’s great for the some 65% of adults who are lactose intolerant, but with more than a dozen varieties now crowding the dairy aisle, it’s hard to know which one to choose. Ultimately, Groetch says, it comes down to what you’re looking for.

Groetch: So if you’re looking to get closest to cow’s milk, I would probably go with a soy milk just because it has more protein. It has about seven grams of protein per cup as opposed to eight grams in cow’s milk, and then oat milk is somewhere in between. About four grams of protein per cup of oat milk. Soy is high in protein because it comes from a bean, whereas oat comes from a grain, and it tends to have less protein in it. The protein in the soy milk is also more complete. If you’re looking to reduce your calories, almond milk might be a good choice. So the rice milk here is higher in calories or the highest in calories, and then we have oat, soy, coconut, and almond milk is usually the lowest in calories.

Narrator: But if you’re trying to watch your fat intake, you might actually want to avoid coconut milk.

Groetch: So soy has about four grams of fat per cup, and again, these are healthier fats than the fats that you might find in a 2% milk, but it’s equivalent in the amount of fat. Oat milk, about three grams. It depends on the brand. Coconut milk is a little bit higher. It’s about six grams of fat. I don’t really see the benefit to coconut milk. It’s higher in saturated fats, although now we know that the saturated fat in coconut is probably not as detrimental to cardiovascular health as we once thought, but I think the jury is still out, and I wouldn’t be taking a lot of saturated fats from coconut products right now.

Narrator: But when you’re choosing which milk to buy, there’s more to consider than just protein, calories, and fat.

Groetch: Most of them are fortified with vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin B12, but you have to purchase a fortified milk. So some are fortifying up to 45% of the daily value for calcium, whereas others are only fortifying up to 10%. So this rice milk is fortified with 30% of the daily value. So the daily value for calcium is 1,000 milligrams, and that covers most people. So 30% per cup would mean 300 milligrams of calcium per cup, and that’s equivalent to cow’s milk. Coconut milk, actually, is only fortified at 10%. So you’d only get 100 milligrams of calcium per cup. So it would be difficult to meet your calcium needs if you’re relying on a product like this for calcium. They’re mostly not fortified with other nutrients like potassium. Soy milk, actually, is a good source of potassium, but some of the others are not. So it really just depends on the milk and how it’s fortified. It depends on the brand.

Narrator: And that’s just it. Nutrients don’t just vary by type of milk, like almond or soy, but by brand, like Blue Diamond or Silk, and so do calories and fat. So the best way to choose the right milk is simple. Check out the label.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in March 2019.

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I ate nothing but ‘healthy’ fast food for a week – here’s what happened

America has an obesity problem, but there are more 200,000 fast foods restaurants dotted throughout the country. Customers have been moving towards places with healthier menus and many traditional chains are adding items to address this. I tried eating these “healthy” fast foods for an entire week. I had every meal at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts or Chick-fil-A. Following is a full transcript of the video. 

Kevin Reilly: Fast food is cheap and convenient. But hidden in between the burgers and tacos are some “healthy” options: salads, grilled chicken, yogurts, oatmeal, power burritos. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? I spent a week eating nothing but these “healthy” fast foods and I lost six-and-a-half pounds. But even though I lost about a pound a day, it didn’t really go well.

I live in New York City, a place with every possible food you could want. Eating healthy here, it’s a breeze. But across America, there are more than 200,000 fast food joints, and they’re bringing in more than $200 billion a year in sales. And no matter where you go, you’re never far from a place like McDonald’s or Taco Bell. But in recent years, consumers want better, healthier choices, and the traditional fast food places have been losing customers to those fast casual healthy options.

The rules were pretty simple: Eat every major meal at a national fast-food chain and stick to the healthy options. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Dunkin’ Donuts, Subway, and Chick-fil-A; nothing but them for a week. Yeah, I lost almost seven pounds, but let’s take a close look at the numbers.

On a normal day, I’m eating around 2,500 calories. An adult man should be having about 2,400 to 2,600 calories a day. But on this fast food plan, my calories plummeted. Most of these meals came in under 400 calories, and that was one of my first problems. I’d eat and just a couple hours later, I was starving. And I had days when I didn’t eat more than 1,000 calories.

Now, some of these meals were really good. My favorite was this grilled chicken market salad from Chick-fil-A. It had blueberries, strawberries, apples; it was delicious and it was actually healthy. However, a lot of the other salads from Burger King, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s were loaded with salt, often more than 50% of what I needed for the entire day, from a salad. In fact, excess salt was a problem the entire week. I thought I had hit the jackpot with Taco Bell’s al Fresco menu. They take off all the cheese and mayo-based sauces and replace it with lettuce and pico de gallo. One night I got tacos, another night I got a power cantina burrito, and these were meals with more protein than usual. So, I felt like I was getting enough food. They were good, too good. It was all salt. In fact, just one burrito had almost as much salt as I needed in just one day. The American Heart Association says we should limit our sodium to about 2,300 milligrams a day, but the ideal is closer to 1,500 milligrams a day, especially for a person like me with high blood pressure. But if you look at my sodium intake, it was high every day, yet I was barely getting the calories I needed. If I wanted to keep the sodium down, I was starving. If I wanted to feel full, salt through the roof. You see, that’s an issue in the fast food industry. Wendy’s even acknowledges on their website that there’s going to be a trade-off between salt and flavor.

It was weird. I didn’t feel healthy at all throughout the week, even though I was eating healthy foods and losing weight. And on the last day, I had this massive headache that was just infuriating. These places, they’re supposed to be tasty, cheap, and convenient. But it wasn’t cheap. Every healthy option was expensive, but left me hungry. For eight grilled nuggets and this tiny kale salad at Chick-fil-A, $12. For the power Mediterranean salad at Wendy’s, it was almost $8, yet I could get a cheeseburger, nuggets, fries, and a soda for only $4. That brings me to another problem. Walk into McDonald’s and you get hit with that sweet, sweet french fry smell, and I had to get a salad.

Would I recommend this to anyone? Nope, unless you’re stuck on the road with no other options. Though there was a bright spot: breakfast at Subway. They have these egg-white-and-cheese sandwiches, which I got covered in spinach and peppers. And let me tell you, it was good. But after all this, I just want a cheeseburger.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in May 2018.

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Biden is expected to nominate Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture

Tom Vilsack
Former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to tap former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to reprise his old job leading the department, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Vilsack, a former two-term governor of Iowa who has deep roots in rural America, where Democrats have struggled mightily over the past two presidential cycles, led the Agriculture department from 2009 to 2017 during nearly the entire tenure of former President Barack Obama.

The former secretary has long supported Biden, backing the president-elect in November 2019 before the Iowa caucuses.

This story is developing. Check back for more updates.

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