Cage-free eggs and sustainable dairy

Eggs and dairy are vital ingredients of many of our products. We believe in high standards of animal welfare practices in sourcing these ingredients.

Sourcing our eggs responsibily

Eggs are a vital ingredient in dozens of our best-known food products, ranging from mayonnaises to dressings, sauces and ice cream.

However, the conditions in which eggs are produced vary widely. We take animal welfare seriously as a social and ethical concern. See Farm animal welfare for more information.

Animal welfare practices should address issues such as housing, hygiene, feeding and feed, health management and the management of antibiotics, water supply, mutilations, transport, slaughtering practices and traceability.

Ben & Jerry’s ice cream has used only free-range eggs in Europe since 2004. In 2008 our Hellmann’s, Amora and Calvé brands announced their commitment to source only cage-free eggs for products sold in Western Europe by the end of 2012.

Targets & performance

Cage-free eggs

  • We aim to move to 100% cage-free eggs for all our products,* including Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Hellmann’s, Amora and Calvé mayonnaises

  • Our roll-out of products using cage-free eggs continued, with around one-third of our mayonnaise portfolio in North America becoming cage-free by end 2012*.
  • achieved
  • on-plan
  • off-plan
  • %of target achieved


Our research shows that consumers prefer to buy products made with cage-free eggs. We have made good progress in North America in 2012 and we are confident that we will achieve 100% cage-free eggs in our mayonnaise portfolio in this region over the coming years.

In Western Europe, our Hellmann’s, Amora and Calvé brands have been 100% cage-free since 2009. By the end of 2011, 99% of all eggs used in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream mix worldwide were cage-free.

Our progress has been helped by the fact that we have built long-term contracts to give suppliers the confidence to invest in cage-free production.

* Where allowed by local legislation.

External recognition

We have received four Good Egg Awards from the animal welfare charity, Compassion in World Farming (2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012). These awards celebrate companies who are using cage-free eggs in products and working in a sustainable and responsible way. The latest Good Egg Award was received in Paris in October 2012.

Caring Dairy: our approach to sustainable dairy sourcing

In 2003 we launched Caring Dairy, an initiative that is helping to establish sustainable dairy standards and tackle the social and environmental impacts of dairy farming.

Targets & performance

Sustainable dairy

  • We will source all dairy produce sustainably by 2020.
  • 31% of dairy produce sustainably sourced by end 2012.
  • achieved
  • on-plan
  • off-plan
  • %of target achieved


We made significant progress over the last year, increasing the proportion of sustainably sourced dairy ingredients from 10% in 2011 to 31% in 2012.

Following a successful pilot in 2011, we have scaled up our work with the dairy co-operatives, FrieslandCampina.

FrieslandCampina and Unilever's Code

FrieslandCampina is one of the largest dairy co-operatives in the world. It has thousands of member farmers and is a major supplier of the cream and creamer materials we use in ice cream.

The company has introduced its own sustainability commitments and we needed to ensure that its practices were aligned with our Code, which covers, among other things, the treatment of cows, grazing conditions and local biodiversity and waste impacts.

An initial pilot in 2011 enabled 12 of FrieslandCampina’s member farms to self-assess their sustainability practices against the Unilever Sustainable Agriculture Code. Based on the findings, improvement plans were developed and in 2012, we assessed a further 116 farms. The high levels of compliance mean that we can be confident that all the dairy supplied by FrieslandCampina meets the standards in our Code, and is sustainable sourced.

“Unilever’s move to cage-free eggs in all sauces and dressings in Western Europe is fantastic. It shows real leadership and commitment to high standards and ethical sourcing. Acting on egg ingredients is especially important as consumers often forget to look for cage-free egg in the products they buy.”

Philip Lymbery, Chief Executive, Compassion in World Farming