Nestlé has joined an initiative in Russia led by retailer Magnit to promote healthier lifestyles and eating, with a key focus on increasing the supply of foods and beverages low in fat, salt and sugar for humans and pets.

The United for a Healthier Future project is co-chaired by Nestlé and consumer goods and baby-care business Johnson & Johnson, with participation from Danone, Mars and PepsiCo. L’Oréal and Procter & Gamble are also part of the programme.

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Jan Dunning, Magnit’s president and CEO, explained in a statement: “The main goal of the initiative is to help people lead a healthier lifestyle and develop a sustainable approach to caring for themselves, their loved ones, and the environment. For us, a healthy lifestyle means not just having a balanced diet, but also taking proper care of ourselves, the people we love, and even our pets. Magnit will unite the leading international FMCG producers operating in Russia and create a platform that supports consumers to take better care of their health”.

Russia has a national programme geared towards supporting public health in areas such as nutrition, and combating smoking and alcohol consumption, a spokesperson for Magnit told just-food. The Demography National Project also encourages food-serving establishments to provide healthy options in snacks, for example, and fresh fruit, and to reduce offerings of less healthy products, particularly those high in fat, salt and sugar.

"We will be working in conjunction with the nutritional and balanced diet recommendations of the Russian health authorities. Together with the suppliers, we will promote healthier food categories and also healthier options within each category," the spokesperson added. "The suppliers are all committed to launching and promoting healthy products."

United for a Healthier Future will also include educational awareness programmes around health and a balanced diet, along with the environmental impact from consumers' food and beverage choices by the promotion of eco-packaging and cutting food waste.

"The aim is to develop healthier habits by gradually increasing the share of 'healthier lifestyle' products and goods in the consumer basket," Magnit said in its statement.

Magnit's spokesperson continued: "Surveys show that 80% of Russian consumers care deeply about their health and want to eat more healthy foods. We will further raise awareness of healthy living and educate our consumers on what they can achieve through their choices.

"We will have our own targets and measurements to measure whether our initiatives have been successful. These include measuring data points like how many customers did our campaigns reach, how many customers actively engaged, and how sales of healthier categories and healthier products have increased."

United for a Healthier Future is backed by the Paris-based The Consumer Goods Forum, a CEO-led organisation representing retailers and manufacturers with an aim to drive positive change.

"We will work together with all the suppliers to raise awareness and educate, and use all communication channels at our disposal," Magnit's spokesperson added. "Changing habits cannot be forced, it is up to the consumers to make the right choices but 80% of customers surveyed want more information and help to allow them to make those right decisions, so we think the timing is ripe for this initiative and we believe that chances for success are good."