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Access to Nutrition Index: A Powerful New Tool for Investors
By Michael Schweibinz

Have you heard of the ATNI? If not, here‘s what you need to know.

The Access to Nutrition Index, (ATNI), is a new initiative that evaluates the 25 largest food and beverage manufacturers worldwide on their “policies, practices, and performance related to obesity and under-nutrition.” The index also evaluates how each company provides consumers with nutritional choices, and in what ways their advertising techniques influence buying behavior.

The director of the ATNI, Inge Kauer, hopes to prove that “it is not only good for public health; it is a business imperative and key to their long-term sustainability” for businesses to comply and receive a high performance rating. Companies should consider their ATNI ratings and the inherent consequences of a poor rating, such as increased government regulations, reputation, litigation, and the loss of market share.

For responsible investors, the ATNI may become a valuable new tool to enhance investment decision-making. Forty investment firms, managing over $2.6 trillion in assets, have already signed the ATNI Investor Statement.

These firms have demonstrated their commitment “to factor food and beverage manufacturers’ nutritionpractices into their responsible ownership activities and their investment analysis.” The signatories realize that health and nutrition are critical drivers of future growth in the sector, and that “manufactures that are most effective in anticipating and responding to those factors will be better positioned to deliver superior and more sustained financial performance over time.”

Danone, Unilever, and Nestlé ranked highest among companies in the food and beverage sector, "receiving the highest scores on both the obesity and undernutrition rankings," according to ATNI. But even the three top performers demonstrate considerable room for improvement, as the highest score was only 6.3 out of a possible 10. You can view company Scorecards and Analysis here.

By implementing strategies to improve and monitor nutrition progress, while increasing public discloser of nutritional activities, companies raise the bar on transparency, accountability, and long-term sustainability. Over time, the ATNI may become a valuable benchmark for responsible consumers and investors.

Mention of specific companies or securities should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Posted: July 1, 2013