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The world's food system needs to change

Too unbalanced, too wasteful and too vulnerable

Already, around 2 billion people are overweight. Nearly a billion people go to bed hungry, while a third of all food produced is lost or wasted. Producing and consuming food is exhausting the earth’s resources and fuelling climate change.

At the same time, the Covid-19 pandemic is reminding us all of the importance of a resilient food supply chain.

Nothing less than a transformation is needed. As one of the biggest consumer goods companies in the world, with a large Foods & Refreshment portfolio, we want to make a huge impact through our scale and reach.

Future Foods: our plan to be a force for good in food

Force for good

As one of the largest food manufacturers in the world, we have a responsibility to help shape a global food system that is fair for everyone. Which is why we are launching our ‘Future Foods’ initiative – it’s our plan to help people transition towards healthier diets and reduce the environmental impact of the food chain.

Future Foods will see Unilever commit to:

  • An annual €1 billion sales target from plant-based meat and dairy alternatives within five to seven years
  • Halve food waste in our direct operations from factory to shelf by 2025
  • Double the number of products that deliver positive nutrition by 2025
  • Continue to lower calories, salt and sugar across all our products.
Hanneke Faber
As one of the world’s largest food companies, we have a critical role to play in helping to transform the global food system. It’s not up to us to decide for people what they want to eat, but it is up to us to make healthier and plant-based options accessible to all.

Hanneke Faber - President, Foods & Refreshment

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  1. Nutritious foods and healthy, balanced diets

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    x2 number of products that deliver positive nutrition by 2025

    We’re ensuring our products are Responsibly Delicious – with a focus on both taste and goodness. We want all consumers to have access to affordable products, and we encourage people to make nutritious choices through clear labelling and balanced portions.

    We’re providing essential micronutrients in a growing number of our products, reducing salt and sugar, and lowering calories. We've reduced the sugar content of Lipton Ice Tea by 30% across Europe, for example. We've also introduced a 110 calorie cap on our children’s ice cream.

    Our Future Foods strategy aims to extend these reductions, so that 85% of our foods will help ensure consumers do not intake more than 5g of salt per day, by 2022. And 95% of our ice creams will not contain more than 22g of sugar, and 250 kcal per serving, by 2025.

    The transition to healthier eating also requires us to reformulate our existing foods to comply with the highest nutritional standards. We plan to double the number of our products that can deliver positive nutritional value by 2025. This is defined as foods containing impactful amounts of vegetables, fruit, proteins or micronutrients such as zinc, iron, omega-3 and iodine.

  2. Making plant-based choices available to all

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    €1bn annual sales target from plant-based meat and dairy alternatives within 5-7 years

    We want to make sure that everyone can be part of the move towards plant-based foods and alternative proteins. Eating more plant-based choices can be better for all of us as consumers, and better for the planet.

    But if we want people to make the switch, we need plant-based options to be more accessible, affordable and appetising. They need to be the easy, obvious choice.

    That's why we are committing to an annual sales target of €1 billion for plant-based meat and dairy alternatives within five to seven years.

    We've hugely expanded our range of dairy-free and vegan options, such as Hellmann's Vegan and Magnum Vegan. Our Knorr brand partnered with WWF UK to publish the Future 50 Foods report, promoting more diverse plant-based eating and biodiversity.

    And we've made a €85 million investment in a new Foods Innovation Centre at the campus of Wageningen University & Research, which will help formulate the next generation of meat and dairy alternatives to join the plant-based foods that already make up around a third of our portfolio.

  3. Less food waste

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    -50% food waste in our direct operations from factory to shelf by 2025

    People hate to see food wasted, especially when times are hard. So do we.

    Currently, a third of the food produced globally is thrown away, and 40–45% of that waste comes from our own homes.

    We're tackling food waste, both in our supply chain, and by helping consumers reduce the amount of food they throw away. And as a member of the Champions 12.3 10x20x30 coalition, a global coalition of leaders from governments, businesses and civil society, we had already committed to halving food waste by 2030. We’re now bringing that deadline forward to 2025.

  4. Food that's fair, and doesn't cost the earth

    We all want our food to be made in ways that are fair to others, and the planet. So at the same time as supporting consumers in choosing healthy, balanced diets, we strive to source our ingredients sustainably and support farmers and others who make their livelihood from working with us.

    By 2019 we had enabled 793,000 smallholder farmers to access initiatives aiming to improve their agricultural practices.

    We will achieve a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023, and we’re committing to net zero emissions from all our products by 2039. From the sourcing of the materials we use, up to the point of sale of our products in the store.

    And we've made industry-leading commitments on plastic across our business. Food packaging is no exception – for example, our new Hellmann’s 100% recycled and recyclable plastic jars and bottles launched in the US and Canada, will save around 14,000 tons of virgin plastic per year.

Our Future Foods strategy not only marks our commitment to transform our foods business, it’s also our commitment to helping transform the world’s food system. Only then will everyone, everywhere, have access to healthy, affordable food that’s good for the planet.

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Future foods in action

Future foods in action (6 items)

Swipe through the images to read case studies of Future Foods work that’s already underway.