LONDON (Reuters) – Investors managing $12.4 trillion in assets on Tuesday called for governments and companies to accelerate the shift to promoting healthier food and drink to help fix what they described as a “global nutrition crisis”.
Poor-quality diets are a leading cause of death and disease and carry individual, societal and economic costs that impact the value of their holdings, 53 investors said in a pledge at the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit 2021.
The investors, including PIMCO and UBS Asset Management, urged policymakers to use fiscal and regulatory measures to help support healthy packaged food and do more to meet the nutrition targets laid out by the World Health Organisation.
Food and drink companies, meanwhile, were called on to commit to three actions, including reporting annually on the percentage of their sales generated by healthy products and their share of the overall product mix.
The companies should also use an independently developed system to define what constitutes a healthy product, and adopt the commitments laid out in the document ‘Investor Expectations on Nutrition, Diets and Health’ produced by the investors with the support of non-profit the Access to Nutrition Initiative.
The investors said they would engage with the 20 listed companies in the ATNI Global Index 2021, including Nestle and Unilever, as appropriate, or ask fund managers which invest on their behalf to do so.
They said they would share information about their talks with companies through quarterly or annual reports and use the information to guide their investment decisions.
“The investor pledge illustrates the urgent action required from companies, investors and governments to accelerate progress on global nutrition,” said Frank Wagemans, Senior Engagement Specialist at Achmea Investment Management.
“Investors understand not only the macroeconomic drag posed by nutrition, but also the profound societal impact of malnutrition which we see as a financial and societal material risk.”
The costs of poor nutrition are estimated to amount to around 5% of global income a year, or around $3.5 trillion, ATNI said.
(Reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by Jan Harvey)