Healthy habits, nutritious diets
Average read time: 17 minutes
We’re empowering people to choose more nutritious foods and drinks.
Making better food choices
For some, healthy living is viewed as hard work and time-consuming. Because of our ‘need for speed’, people tend to use fewer ingredients, especially – let’s admit it – vegetables. The World Health Organization (Opens in a new window) (WHO) is particularly concerned that many teenagers simply don’t have the cooking skills to become healthy adults. For others, the struggle is simply to eat well on a limited budget.
We want to make it easier for people to live well by eating delicious, better-for-you food. More nutritious foods explains how we’re providing nourishing products. We’re also taking action to encourage people to make better food choices, for example through our evidence-based, behaviour-change programmes and responsible marketing.
Whether at home or in a professional environment, we’re empowering people to cook simple, healthy meals with varied ingredients that are suitable for different lifestyles and budgets. We also believe advocacy is important in promoting wider change, so we’re looking at the bigger picture too, and working with others on how to make our diets more sustainable.
We’re reinventing food
Knorr is our biggest food brand. It’s at the forefront of our efforts with its purpose of ‘reinventing food for humanity’: driving shifts towards more varied and plant-based diets that are better for the health of people and the planet. One of the ways we’re doing this is through Knorr’s Future 50 Foods, which we developed with WWF-UK.
50 foods that are better for people and the planet
The Future 50 Foods (Opens in a new window) are ingredients that are helping people to discover new flavours and diversify their diet towards more sustainable alternatives. So far, more than 1,000 Knorr Future 50 Foods recipes have been developed by 200 Knorr chefs in 90 countries. The recipes feature on packs and Knorr websites, inspiring the 379 million people who enjoy Knorr products each year to put better ingredients on their tables.
We’ve produced a colourful Knorr Future 50 Foods cookbook, (Opens in a new window) with delicious, plant-based recipes created by expert chefs and approved by nutritionists. We want to inspire people to choose a wider variety of foods that are better for people and the planet. The cookbook is free to download at KnorrFuture50Foods.com and is sold on Amazon UK and WWF-UK’s website, with all profits going to WWF-UK.
We run campaigns in different markets to encourage people to eat the Future 50 Foods as part of everyday recipes. We’ve created programmes in multiple countries to inspire and enable millions to eat better for themselves and the planet, including in Mexico, the Philippines, UK, Nigeria, Kenya and Germany. We continue to roll these out with the ambition to change the way the world eats.
In the US, we offer a variety of resources (Opens in a new window), health and wellness content (Opens in a new window) and a new Nutrition Buzz Blog (Opens in a new window). These are aimed at registered dietitians, with whom we partner to encourage their clients and customers to focus on nutritious plant-based foods, including the Future 50 Foods.
We also continue to work with partners, including Chefs’ Manifesto, WWF, Gro Intelligence, Food for Climate League and beyond – together we’re reinventing food for humanity for the betterment of people and the planet.
Inspiration often starts with a recipe
One way to encourage home cooking is through our on-pack and online recipe suggestions. Our Healthy Recipe Framework (PDF 991KB) (Opens in a new window) makes sure these are in line with our Highest Nutritional Standards (PDF 155KB) (Opens in a new window), and based on expert recommendations.
We update a bank of more than 100,000 recipe ideas each year, ranging from delicious main course and side dishes to Lipton’s green tea recipes. Local brands like Indonesia’s Bango and South Africa’s Robertsons also inspire home cooks by sharing recipes through our Recipedia sites (Opens in a new window) across the world, as well as through specific campaigns. They all aim to inspire creative, tasty and nutritious cooking, and often include on-pack shopping lists and cooking tips.
Cooking made easy
We’re helping people to ‘reclaim their kitchens’, making healthy meal planning simple, and shopping even easier. In Canada, Meals That Matter (Opens in a new window) is our personalised meal planning and grocery delivery tool. This includes 500+ chef-curated recipes from Knorr, Hellmann's and others. Recipes can be searched using filters to meet dietary and lifestyle needs, such as our better-for-you (Opens in a new window) recipes.
Knorr US also partnered with A Better Life Foundation (Opens in a new window) to educate people in underserved communities about fresh food and nutrition, showing people how to create healthy meals. And as a sponsor of the FoodRight (Opens in a new window) organisation, Knorr US is matching donations to help ensure students learn to cook so they can enjoy healthy food for life.
Making lockdown eating inspirational
As countries moved into lockdown during the global pandemic, it became clear that people would have to start cooking more at home. We created Knorr@Home (Opens in a new window) to help households cope – and find joy in cooking.
Alongside healthy recipes that provide nutrients to support immunity, we offered store-cupboard recipes to meet tight budgets, and easy tips for creating restaurant-like meals at home. Knorr recommended swaps if not all ingredients in a recipe were available, either at home or in-stores. And we encouraged people to share their meals, even when they couldn’t physically be together, such as through our Apart but not Alone (Opens in a new window) campaign in South Africa, or Digital Dinner (Opens in a new window) in Switzerland.
To add fun to mealtimes, we partnered with local chef networks, influencers and foodservice partners in a number of countries – Knorr’s Moarr! campaign (Opens in a new window) in Germany, for example, features well-known YouTuber Malwanne, as well as a petition (Opens in a new window) to encourage the government to introduce nutrition into the school curriculum. We also offer foodie inspiration through live-streamed, cook-along tutorials featuring Knorr’s Future 50 Foods and other exciting recipes.
A helping hand for parents
We run many national programmes to help parents improve their children’s diets.
Through Knorr’s Lutong Nanay (Mum Cooked) Nutrition Programme (Opens in a new window), for example, we’re working with the Philippines government to teach mums how to cook flavourful and nutritious meals on a budget – the 65 easy recipes cost less than the equivalent of €0.5 per meal. During the pandemic, we took this online with a 15-episode TV series (Opens in a new window) aimed at school kids. Using puppets, animated characters and colourful sets, the show taught children about basic nutrition and cooking.
In South Africa, we researched family dietary habits and found that the typical South African plate contains too much meat and starches and not enough vegetables. We launched our Plate of the Nation (Opens in a new window) findings on the day of the State of the Nation address, generating media coverage to raise awareness. In-store Knorr stands featuring QR codes made it easier for people to connect with product and recipe websites, and a social media campaign highlighted strategies to help diversify consumer diets.
And in Italy, Knorr’s new BuonCibo (Opens in a new window) programme explores Future 50 Foods that were traditionally part of the Italian diet. As part of the initiative, we invite young people and their grandparents to cook easy, nutritious, plant-based meals together, using recipes from the BuonCibo cookbook with both Knorr and Future 50 ingredients.
Good hydration is also essential for healthy living
Our approach to healthy habits isn’t limited to food. Through our tea business, we’ve long understood how important hydration is to good health.
As an alternative to water, health authorities recommend drinking unsweetened tea. In fact, drinking unsweetened tea has been recommended for the first time in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Opens in a new window), which was published in December 2020. And we know that two to three cups of unsweetened brewed tea every day provides flavonoids, which may help to support heart health as part of a balanced diet.
We run campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of healthy hydration and the benefits of drinking tea. In the US, for instance, we introduced an on-pack claim that tea ‘may help support a healthy heart’ across our unsweetened brewed green and black Lipton teas.
For Heart Healthy Month in February 2020, we launched a toolkit (Opens in a new window) outlining Unilever’s sponsored research and consumer-friendly tips for healthcare professionals. And we sponsor the American Heart Association’s Life is Why programme (Opens in a new window), raising awareness of the impact of diet and lifestyle on heart health, including the benefits of drinking unsweetened brewed tea.
For many, healthy food is still out of reach
Cheaper food products are often associated with less healthy offerings. We want to break this paradigm and ensure all have access to affordable, tasty and nutritious food. This is critical as incomes become more and more polarised and inequalities deepen.
3 billion People who can’t afford a healthy diet
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), even the cheapest healthy diets are out of reach for more than 3 billion people (Opens in a new window). And the World Food Programme says that this problem affects people in developed countries, as well as emerging and developing markets.
1 in 6 Americans experience food insecurity
Even in the world’s richest nation, too many people go hungry or lack access to healthy food. This was made worse by Covid-19.
Knorr US and our partner Feeding America (Opens in a new window) provided locally sourced lunches to more than 11,000 workers at 200 food banks across the country in 2020.
We expanded our work with Black, indigenous and people of colour communities, which historically are disproportionately affected by food insecurity. And our #FeedTheVote (Opens in a new window) campaign involved collaborating with UnidosUS (Opens in a new window), the nation’s largest non-partisan Latino advocacy organisation, to help these communities get the nutrition they deserve.
Ensuring our foods are affordable and accessible
We want to combat the inequalities people face in accessing healthy food. We’re addressing affordability and accessibility across the world to give people a choice in what they eat. We do this through our product offerings, sales channels, education programmes and, of course, pricing.
We provide our products across a full range of price and package sizes, from small sachets to larger family packs. We sell our foods through value channels, and contribute to food banks by redistributing surplus stock that would otherwise have gone to waste. And we use innovative ‘last mile’ distribution channels to get our products into consumers’ hands. Our brands also offer guidance on how to eat balanced diets on a tight budget.
Balancing diets and budgets
Royco’s (Knorr) Nutrimenu programme in Indonesia teaches parents to cook nutritious meals at under IDR 40k (or €2.5) for a family portion.
A focus on pricing
As well as offering products across a range of price options, we also use in-store activation tools like discounts, promotions and coupons to make our products more accessible, especially during high consumption seasons like Easter, Ramadan or Christmas. And we engage with shoppers through promoters and dieticians to drive greater awareness about our products amongst more people.
Strategic price positioning can help us reach more people by better balancing costs across our portfolio. For example, in Turkey, we offer take-home and out-of-home ice creams that range from affordable brands such as Twister to premium-priced Magnums. Of course, the actual price paid by shoppers and consumers may vary as a result of retailers and distributors independently applying their own price policies.
By innovating across the price range – from our premium to our affordable ranges – we can bring our products within reach of more people to serve households of all levels of income. This model is now being rolled out across different regions and product categories.
In emerging markets, where relatively more people are cash-strapped, it’s particularly important we take a rigorous approach to affordability. This is critical during recessionary times, when many people seek products that are priced below the market average. Therefore, in addition to playing across wide price ranges, we use a robust cost management platform and advanced analytics to absorb as much as possible any currency fluctuations and material inflation. This helps to minimize the impact on consumers.
Reaching remote areas: the last mile challenge
In some countries, we found that traditional distribution channels simply weren’t reaching people in remote areas. So we developed a network of small-scale retailers to help us improve access to quality, affordable products.
Shakti in India is our longest-running example. Since 2001, we’ve trained around 131,000 women in low-income rural communities to act as sales agents in their local villages. These micro-entrepreneurs sell nutritious foods and home and personal care products, and explain how to use them. We’ve expanded this model to more than ten countries as far apart as Colombia, Ethiopia and Pakistan, tailoring it to fit local conditions and ensuring we get this ‘last mile distribution’ right. This video explains how Project Zeinab in Egypt is empowering women to reach rural consumers. (Opens in a new window)
We also worked with BoP Innovation Centre to create ASPIRE . This is a guide to help us and others make quicker, better choices in applying innovative solutions and investments to scale up inclusive distribution models like Shakti. We’ve used it to look at populations’ typical nutrition needs – more iron for instance – so we can focus our product offering to address those needs with iron-fortified salt or stock cubes.
And through our TRANSFORM partnership, we’re aiming to help 100 million people in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia gain access to products and services that have been shown to improve health, livelihoods, the environment or wellbeing.
How we’re helping to combat hunger during the pandemic
The FAO suggests that due to Covid-19, an additional 100 million people will go hungry in the coming year. As well as meeting household needs, our food brands are supporting vulnerable communities.
Knorr donated more than $1 million (over €900,000) of products to aid the vital work of the Feeding America charity in the US. We also donated 1.7 million portions of dry soups to the Ministry of Health in Turkey. In Nigeria, Knorr donated (Opens in a new window) meals to 36 ward communities in Lagos aiming to help feed 54,000 people affected, one meal at a time.
Hellmann’s USA has launched a food relief fund to provide $1 million to feed frontline workers and those in need. Through a partnership with Grubhub, the fund provided 30,000 meals to healthcare workers at three New York City hospitals, supporting local restaurants who provided the catering.
And even while losing business itself due to restaurant lockdowns, Unilever Food Solutions (our foodservice business) didn’t stop feeding people. In the UK, for instance, we helped to feed 1.5 billion people through Hospitality Action. Unilever also provided 1 million meals for Ramadan in North Africa and the Middle East.
How we respond to disasters and emergencies explains more about how we’ve supported communities during the pandemic.
Supporting the foodservice industry
Pre-pandemic, in some parts of the world eating out of the home was on the rise. But with lockdowns, being able to afford to eat out has become a luxury for many. When people are fortunate enough to be able to eat out, or get a home delivery, we want to make it easier for them to eat healthily.
Our foodservice business, Unilever Food Solutions (UFS), is helping chefs and cooks in over 70 countries to prepare more nutritious meals for their customers. UFS also provides online recipe inspiration (Opens in a new window).
We helped to develop, and continue to promote, the Chefs’ Manifesto (Opens in a new window). This is an initiative led by the SDG2 Advocacy Hub, a global coalition working together to tackle hunger. The aim is to support chefs from 77 countries to influence more nutritious and sustainable diets.
More and more UFS recipes and products are now plant-based or vegetarian. And in 2020, we launched the Pushing Plants Forward platform in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, to inspire chefs to serve more plant-based ingredients.
UFS also helps chefs who cook for specific populations, such as elderly people in hospitals and care homes. We’ve developed tasty products that cater to their specific needs. For example, our elderly care services include specially designed products that make chewing and swallowing easier. And our UFS websites around the world feature dedicated pages for elderly care (Opens in a new window).
We’re tackling ‘portion distortion’
Whether they’re at home or eating out, helping people understand what’s in the foods they eat is crucial to maintaining a healthy diet. And so is knowing what an appropriate portion size looks like. We know that portions are getting bigger and as a result, people are eating more. ‘Portion distortion’ is unfortunately becoming the norm.
We’ve made a commitment that by 2025, 95% of our packaged ice cream will contain no more than 250 kcal per serving. To achieve this, we will need to continue to reduce portion sizes.
We believe the underlying algorithm of front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition labelling schemes should be based on portions that people consume rather than a generic calculation per 100 g. For our Knorr brand in France for example, we’ve developed a labelling approach combining the French government’s Nutri-Score system with additional portion guidance on our packaging.
We’re also partners in the Portion Balance Coalition (Opens in a new window), which aims to change people’s understanding of portions. We’re collaborating with industry, policymakers and public health groups to offer and promote balanced portions to support a healthy lifestyle. The coalition is also aiming to reach the increasing number of food-insecure households with health education.
We’re committed to promoting healthy diets, not just by providing more nutritious products but also by marketing and advertising them responsibly, especially to children. We are guided by our General Marketing Principles, our Principles on Responsible Food & Beverage Marketing to Children, and for ice cream, our Responsibly Made for Kids promise. Advertising and Marketing details our approach.
The food system transformation has begun
We want to see the global food system transformed . But we can’t do this alone. We’re working with partners to develop science-based targets, technical solutions and policy at a national and global level, and the transformation has already begun.
For example, we’re partnering to help make the UN Food System Summit 2021 a success by seconding resources to the World Economic Forum (WEF) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (Opens in a new window)(WBCSD). In November 2020, we co-hosted the pre-summit Bold Actions for Food as a Force for Good. Leaders from all five UN Summit action tracks attended, as well as thousands of participants from over 300 organisations in almost every country in the world.
Our President of Foods & Refreshment is a board member of WBCSD’s Food and Nature work programme. We’re also active through projects like FReSH, which aims to accelerate food system transformation. We co-lead its Positive Nutrition and Plant Forward workstreams, and participate in the Plant Protein, Consumer Behaviour, Food Loss and Waste and True Cost workstreams. At the WEF in January 2020, FReSH published important reports (Opens in a new window) and later the Food and Agriculture Roadmap (Opens in a new window) to give further direction towards food systems.
We partner with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). Over 2020–23, for instance, we will be involved in its Seeds of Prosperity partnerships in India, Kenya and Malawi, increasing access to nutritious food for 300,000 tea workers and their families – 1.5 million people in total. And we’re members of the Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU). This brings together over 30 organisations from academia, government, civil society and business to unlock new models of sustainable nutrition that work for people and the planet.
Playing a leading role in industry-wide, self-regulating initiatives that encourage nutritious diets is also important to us. Our President of Foods & Refreshment, Hanneke Faber, is a Board member of FoodDrinkEurope (FDE). We’re also active in the International Food & Beverage Alliance (IFBA), Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) of the FAO Committee for Food Security, Better Business Bureau (BBB) in North America and Food Industry Asia (FIA).
Plant-based foods explains how we’re helping people to access foods that are better for the health of people and the planet.