Unhealthy commodity industry responses during COVID

How have unhealthy commodity industry practices evolved in the pandemic?

11th May 2021

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have launched activities presented as socially responsible responses to the crisis. Such initiatives can have complex implications for health and policy, particularly where businesses’ core products and activities are harmful to health – as with companies associated with ‘unhealthy commodities’ such as tobacco, alcohol, ultra-processed food and beverages, gambling, and fossil fuels.

NCD Alliance (NCDA) and the SPECTRUM research consortium is working together on an initiative to map, document and analyse diverse corporate responses across countries and industries. This initiative began in response to people like you sharing concerning examples from all over the world of unhealthy commodity industry practices during the early phase of the pandemic.

Our preliminary report, Signalling Virtue, Promoting Harm, received considerable attention and interest from advocate and policy makers alike and we’d like to thank those of you who contributed examples.

Tell us: What’s happening one year on?

We are now seeking to document how corporate strategies have evolved as the pandemic has progressed amid changing policy contexts and efforts to build back better. We invite you to be part of the next phase of the project.

Quicker and easier than ever before!

Please share examples of what you have seen where you live and work through our new survey.


Responding to feedback, we have simplified the survey, and it takes less than 5 minutes to make each submission. You can make as many submissions as you like by easily uploading an image and/or entering a website link. Your submission is anonymous by default.

Looking for some inspiration?

Explore Signalling Virtue, Promoting Harm which uses over 200 examples from dozens of countries to illustrate how unhealthy commodity industries have adapted marketing and promotions, and increasing availability; increased corporate social responsibility (CSR) and philanthropy activities; pursued partnerships and collaborations; and sought to influence policy. Please help to monitor and expose these practices so that we can all continue to make a strong case for measures which protect health policy from unhealthy interests.