Business News/ Companies / News/  ATNI to engage stakeholders for inclusion of nutrition metrics in ESG reporting

New Delhi: Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI), a not-for-profit organization, is considering a partnership with Invest India, Tata Trusts, and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) to make nutrition metrics a mandatory aspect of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) requirements for companies in India. 

The goal is to promote the adoption of nutrition metrics, such as providing nutritious food to workforces at factories and offices across top-listed firms and ensuring the quality of packaged food and beverages.

Sebi has already required the top 1,000 listed companies to voluntarily disclose Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSR) from FY2022 and mandatorily from FY2023. ATNI plans to engage with various stakeholders to incorporate workforce nutrition metrics as part of SEBI's new ESG requirements.

ATNI will engage with various stakeholders to raise workforce nutrition metrics as part of the new Sebi ESG requirements.

“One way to accelerate action in India towards healthier packaged foods is for shareholders and investors to demand better nutrition as part of their ESG investment strategies," Greg S Garrett, Executive Director, ATNI, said in an interview with Mint.

The initiative is part of ATNI’s broader efforts to work with major food companies to ensure that half the food sold by 2030 is sustainable, affordable, and healthy. Netherlands-based ATNI works as a not-for-profit organization to improve nutrition around the globe by assessing the private sector and driving companies to improve access to nutritious foods; every few years it also releases an ATNI Index that charts the progress food companies have made to make their portfolio more “healthy"; this also holds food and beverages companies accountable to better reporting and disclosure standards. ATNI is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as WHO among other stakeholders.

ATNI sees 2023 as an opportunity to participate in open consultations being led by SEBI to include essential indicators like workforce nutrition metrics. In India, the time is right to introduce nutrition into ESG investment strategies since SEBI has introduced a new regulatory framework of ESG Disclosures by listed entities.

Garrett said a vast majority of India’s population needs innovative ways to improve healthy food consumption. “70% of the worlds and India’s packaged foods profiled as unhealthy, and their consumption is growing globally and in India. This leads to a growing problem with NCDs and ongoing micronutrient deficiencies in India. One way to accelerate action in India towards healthier packaged foods is for shareholders and investors to demand better nutrition as part of their ESG investment strategies," Garrett said.

It could take at least six months of engagement to see these metrics added and then another six months for the top listed companies to start reporting, he said.

The consultation will start with suggestions of including metrics which can be universally applied by all sectors, for instance, workforce nutrition metrics; ATNI will work with others such as Invest India and Tata Trust to introduce these metrics. “In the first set of metrics we will focus on is workforce nutrition because it a material component of human capital across all sectors, and is an issue already embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals as well as in the Investor Expectations on Nutrition, Diets and Health," he said.

The move comes as consumers, shareholders and large companies acknowledged the economic and financial impact of climate change and environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks.

ATNI will also widen the scope of its conversations to engage directly with investors which are also shareholders in India or who are looking to purchase shares in India food companies. “We will work on sensitizing them to nutrition so that voluntary disclosures on nutrition are also encouraged by companies," Garrett said.

To be sure globally ATNI has worked on ESG investing and nutrition for a decade with success in several countries and globally. Globally, for instance has engaged with Unilever Plc for a decade; Unilever has been included in every iteration of ATNI’s Global Index. ATNI already works with 80 institutional investors to make nutrition a material issue. Each of these investors has signed the Investor Expectations on nutrition, diets and health.

Suneera Tandon
Suneera Tandon is a New Delhi based reporter covering consumer goods for Mint. Suneera reports on fast moving consumer goods makers, retailers as well as other consumer-facing businesses such as restaurants and malls. She is deeply interested in what consumers across urban and rural India buy, wear and eat. Suneera holds a masters degree in English Literature from the University of Delhi.
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Updated: 09 May 2023, 03:43 PM IST
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