Nestle has been told by investors to sell less unhealthy food and “do so much more to support population health”.
ShareAction, representing 26 investors worth more than $3tr (£2.64tr) of assets, found 40% of Nestle’s everyday UK food sales contain high levels of sugar, salt or fat.
The activist group acknowledged that Nestle CEO Mark Schneider stated that “the company wanted to increase the share of its sales associated with healthier products”.
But speaking ahead of Nestle’s AGM in Switzerland on Friday, deputy CEO of ShareAction Simon Rawson said: “It hasn’t given assurance that it will also address its less healthy food sales, which is essential to turn the tide against the harmful effects of diet related ill health.”
Nestle is the largest food company in the world, owning confectionary brands such as KitKat, Smarties and Quality Street.
Despite already producing a range of cereal brands, including Cheerios and Shreddies, it launched a KitKat cereal in April, which contains 7.4g of sugar per serving.
That is more than third of a four to six-year-old’s recommended intake according to the NHS.
According to the World Obesity Federation, the majority of the global population will be overweight or obese by 2035 and child obesity will have doubled.
Professor Louise Baur, president of the World Obesity Federation, said: “It is particularly worrying to see obesity rates rising fastest among children and adolescents.
“Governments and policymakers around the world need to do all they can to avoid passing health, social, and economic costs on to the younger generation.
“That means looking urgently at the systems and root factors that contribute to obesity, and actively involving young people in the solutions.”
ShareAction said it had outlined its “willingness to escalate engagement” if Nestle did not give assurance that it will decrease the sale of unhealthy food products.
Nestle has also announced it will set a target to grow the proportion sales of healthy products.
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