The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), Silver Spring, Md., published a new report showing that more companies are engaging with their communities on health topics.

​​Last year, there was a 26% rise in participation in health-related programs amongst CGF members, according to the annual Health & Wellness Pillar Progress Report. The report is based on a survey of 83 CGF members, who generate a combined $2.97 trillion in revenues.

Community engagement has been a major focus for the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector over the last year, as 85% of consumer goods companies formed partnerships with community stakeholders.

Over 1.6 million employees participated in health and wellness programs. Employees form key groups within local communities and improving health in the workplace is also seen as a key step toward healthier communities.

Furthermore, nearly six in 10 companies (58%) said they had been involved in food bank programs, with 180 million meals distributed and in excess of 77,400 tons of food donated.

The CGF’s Collaboration for Healthier Lives (CHL) initiative has pushed the issue of community health programs and working with local public health authorities to the top of the agenda in the boardroom. The project, which aims to drive positive action within communities around the world, has encouraged FMCG companies to go out into communities and actively promote health and wellness.

In 2017, CHL initiatives have taken place in Colombia, Japan and the United States, and more are planned to be rolled out this year in Costa Rica, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Activities include distributing educational material in stores, engaging with local educational institutions, promoting the benefits of healthier choices and regular exercise through health fairs and free in-store health checks.

The report also demonstrated that product reformulation has been a continued focus over the last year. Just under nine in 10 (88%) of companies said they introduced products that had been formulated or reformulated to support healthier diets and lifestyles. There was also a 12% rise in the number of businesses cutting salt and sugar in their products.
“Our ambition to empower consumers to lead healthier lives is an important long-term objective that requires sustained effort,” says CGF board co-sponsors Mark Schneider, chief executive officer of Nestlé S.A., Paris, and Dick Boer, president and CEO, Ahold Delhaize, The Netherlands. “We are helping to improve the health of the communities we serve, but we know that there is so much more we can do together. Building upon our initial 5-year plan from 2013, we now intend to strengthen our leadership in this area for the next five years and beyond.”

“This year’s annual report highlights the progress that’s being made on a community level. I would like to thank all the CGF member companies, who have shared their data in the only such global survey covering both retailers and consumer goods manufacturers, for their continuous efforts to make the health and wellness agenda relevant. I also would like to thank Mary Kearney, senior manager, nutrition and health operations at Unilever, for her leadership as chair for the measurement and reporting work stream. We are delighted to see our members’ projects reach such a large number of employees and communities,” adds Sharon Bligh, CGF’s director of health and wellness.