Unhealthy commodity industries & COVID-19 (NCD Alliance)

An initiative to map and analyse corporate responses to the pandemic.


NCDA & SPECTRUM Collaboration

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have initiated new activities presented as altruistic or socially responsible, while others are seeking ways to influence or benefit from government responses to the crisis. While some of these activities may provide limited benefits (e.g. by making essential products available), many may actually increase the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the population and/or undermine broader development goals. 

This is particularly the case where businesses’ core products and activities are harmful to health – such as companies associated with ‘unhealthy commodities’ such as tobacco, alcohol, ultra-processed food and beverages, gambling, and fossil fuels.    

The NCD Alliance (NCDA), in collaboration with SPECTRUM, have launched a tool to collect examples of activities undertaken or presented by businesses as a response to the COVID-19 crisis – including corporate social responsibility initiatives, philanthropy, new marketing campaigns, and engagement in policy debates - which members of the NCDA network around the world have been raising concerns about since the start of the pandemic response. 
The information collected will form part of a database that will be used to map industries’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic across countries and across industries, develop publications and to inform policy debates in the coming months nationally and globally. 
We would love your help! We invite you join us gathering examples by keeping an eye out for industry actions, activities, communications and behaviours that strike you as interesting, curious and/or concerning, and when you see them, visit:  bit.ly/NCDA_SPECTRUM_MAPPING_TOOL
This survey will only take a few minutes for you to log the details - the location, industry, activity, a link or screen shot, and any quick comments you might have about the example.  The tool is available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, and is computer / tablet web browser and mobile friendly. We are collecting examples identified between 30th January 2020 (when the WHO declared COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern) and 30 June 2020.
The anonymous tool should take less than 5-10 minutes to fill in, it's completely voluntary, you can stop any time and you can also return to the survey to make additional submissions (by completing the survey again, with new information). The information collected will be kept securely and will not be used in a way that will allow contributors to be identified. 

Outputs and Impact

A report published in September 2020 by the NCDA and SPECTRUM, “Signalling Virtue, Promoting Harm: Unhealthy commodity industries and COVID-19” details hundreds of examples of unhealthy commodity industries, led by Big Alcohol, Big Food, and Big Soda, leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic for commercial gain.

Read the report

Read the announcement

Further details

For further information, please contact: Professor Jeff Collin (jeff.collin@ed.ac.uk)