PRINCETON, N.J.Sixteen of the nations leading food and beverage companies sold 6.4 trillion fewer calories in the United States in 2012 than they did in 2007, according to the findings of an independent evaluation funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).
The companies, acting together as part of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF), pledged to remove 1 trillion calories from the marketplace by 2012, and 1.5 trillion by 2015. The evaluation found that, thus far, the companies have exceeded their 2015 pledge by more than 400%.
Sixteen companies participated in the calorie-reduction pledge, announced in May 2010Bumble Bee Foods, LLC, Campbell Soup Company, ConAgra Foods (includes Ralston Foods), General Mills, Inc., Hillshire Brands (previously Sara Lee Corporation), Kellogg Company, Kraft Foods Group/Mondelez, Mars, Inc., McCormick & Company, Inc., Nestlé USA, PepsiCo, Inc., Post Foods, The Coca-Cola Company, The Hershey Company, The J.M. Smucker Company and Unilever.
Together the 16 companies produced 36% of the calories from all packaged foods and beverages, items such as cereals, snack foods, canned soups and bottled beverages, sold in the United States in 2007.
The companies sold 60.4 trillion calories in 2007, the year defined as the baseline measurement for the pledge. In 2012, they sold 54 trillion calories. This 6.4 trillion calorie decline translates into a reduction of 78 calories per person in the United States per day. In fact, lower-calorie food products drove 82% of the sales growth among the HWCF member CPG companies, increasing $1.25 billion, compared to less than $300 million for high-calorie products.
To evaluate the impact of the pledge, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) combined data on foods and beverages sold by participating companies with nutritional information for those products. They then determined which individual products were included as part of the pledge and tracked sales of those products over time.
Making the shift from traditional items to lower-calorie ones is not just the right thing for customers, its the right thing for these companies bottom lines," said C. Tracy Orleans, Ph.D., senior scientist at RWJF. The next big question is how these changes to whats available on store shelves actually impact the health of children and families."
The pledge was part of an agreement between HWCF and the Partnership for a Healthier America, an independent, non-partisan organization dedicated to advancing the goals of First Lady Michelle Obamas Lets Move initiative by working with the private sector to end childhood obesity.