INDIA – Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, has scaled up its financial and medical support programs in India to cushion its employees from the adverse effects of the covid-19 pandemic.

The support comes at a time when India is recovering from a third wave which at its peak in May saw daily cases surpass the 400,000 mark.

Recent data show that the cases have since significantly dropped thanks to a number of efforts implemented by both the federal and state governments.

Employees benefit from enhanced covid-19 support

As the country recovers from its worst covid-19 wave yet, the maker of Nescafe, Maggi and KitKat has said that it will provide families of employees who passed away due to Covid with a two-year base salary along with pension, gratuity and other applicable statutory benefits.

Company managing director Suresh Narayanan, the company will support education of children and cover critical hospital expenses of impacted families during this period.

To further cushion employees from the pandemic, Nestlé has collaborated with Apollo Hospitals for isolation rooms for employees, and with International SOS for medical Covid-19 support.

We have scaled up medical, financial and wellness support for our people. We are cognizant of the dire need for emotional, educational and physical wellness support in these times,” Narayanan said.

Nestlé has also started staff loan schemes to aid its workforce financially, and has tied up with virtual pre-schools for children of employees and is offering nutrition counselling for the employees.

The company said it is setting up oxygen plants in five hospitals near its factories in Punjab, HP, Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Goa, besides facilitating oxygen concentrators for employees and their families.

60% of Nestle’s Portfolio considered unhealthy

Meanwhile, Nestlé has said it was working on updating its nutrition and health strategy after the Financial Times reported an internal document at the food giant which described a large portion of its food and drinks as unhealthy.

The newspaper said it had seen an internal presentation circulated among top executives early this year stating that more than 60% of Nestle’s mainstream food and drinks portfolio could not be considered healthy under a “recognised definition of health”.

The paper said this assessment applied to about half of Nestle’s overall portfolio because categories like medical nutrition, pet food, coffee and infant formula were excluded from the analysis.

In response to the report, Nestle has said it is working on a “company-wide project” to update its nutrition and health strategy and was looking at its entire portfolio to make sure its products helped meet people’s nutritional needs.

To bolster its claim, it said it had reduced sugars and sodium in its products by about 14-15% in the past seven years and would continue to make its products healthier.

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