Nutrition labels - a key focus of the new Alliance

Nutrition labels - a key focus of the new Alliance

Four heavyweights from the food world - Nestle, Unilever, Mars and Danone - have come together in the US to launch the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance.

The groups said they are aiming, through the organisation, to drive progress in US public policies that shape what people eat and how it impacts their health, communities, and the planet. 

Acting in a similar way to a lobby organisation, the Alliance will focus on areas such as consumer transparency, food safety, nutrition and the environment.

Two policy areas the Alliance intends to engage on are nutrition labelling and carbon emissions.  

The Alliance supports a comprehensive update of the definition of terms important for people, like "healthy," including strong, science-based regulations on how these terms can be used on food packages and in marketing. 

And it will work to advance climate policies that are impactful for the environment, while accounting for the specific business imperatives of supply chains.

"The Sustainable Food Policy Alliance was founded on the principle that food companies can and should be doing more to lead and drive positive policy action for the people who buy and enjoy the foods and beverages we make, the people who supply them, and the planet on which we all rely," a joint statement from executives from the four companies - Mariano Lozano, the CEO of Danone's North American business; Tracey Massey, president of Mars' confectionery operations in the Americas; Steve Presley, the chairman and CEO of Nestlé's US unit; and Amanda Sourry, the president of Unilever's North America division - read. 

"As an Alliance, we commit first and foremost to leading by example. Each member company has independently proven a willingness to advocate for the long-term interests of the people who farm and supply our raw materials, and people who make and consume our products. 

"We are committed to a collaborative approach and to listen and learn about issues affecting all parts of our food system from the field to the store shelf and beyond. We understand that we don't have all the answers and will rely on the best available evidence-based science to inform our positions. We will be transparent about how we reach our decisions and what we hope to achieve.

"With so many pressing food policy opportunities on the horizon, now is the time to help steer America's food policy and our food system on a better path for long-term success."

The Alliance's formation has already received the support of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CPSI).

Margo Wootan, the vice president for nutrition at the CSPI, said: "Unilever United States, Nestlé USA, Mars, Incorporated and Danone North America are among the companies that have distinguished themselves by advocating for sodium reduction, Nutrition Facts labelling improvements, curbs on marketing to kids, and other issues that support families' ability to eat well. 

"Today, those companies have further distinguished themselves by creating the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance. CSPI welcomes the alliance and looks forward to working with it to make continued progress on nutrition, food safety, transparency, and more."

Wootan claimed the coming together of the four companies in the US on these issues meant a "further eroding" of the influence of pan-industry trade body The Grocery Manufacturers Association.

"The new alliance further marginalises the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which has been steadily losing members, staff, and influence. GMA, long a barrier to progress on nutrition, should view the alliance as yet another sign that it needs to moderate its agenda and do more to support -not undermine - consumers' ability to eat healthfully."

just-food has contacted the four companies for further comment.