Positive nutrition Strategy and goals

Everyone, everywhere deserves access to good food. But for people to get their fair share, the world's food system needs to change.

This issue relates to the following Sustainable Development Goals

  • 2 - Zero Hunger
  • 3 - Good health and well-being

Average read time: 6 minutes

A bold ambition to transform the food system

Conflicting and contradictory health issues – like malnourishment and obesity on the one hand, and social and environmental issues like food poverty and food waste on the other – are part of a complex, interdependent system. And they’re all issues that need to be addressed.

We’re working with governments, NGOs and others to fix these issues and Taking a stand explains how we’re advocating transformational change.

For the past decade, we’ve been improving our foods and beverages through our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) (PDF 8.02MB) Opens in new window. The Plan concluded in 2020, when we achieved our ambition of doubling the proportion of products meeting our Highest Nutritional Standards (HNS) (PDF 155KB) Opens in new window. These are based on globally recognised dietary recommendations and 61%* of our Foods portfolio has attained these standards.

Through the USLP we made great strides in reducing the calories, sugar and salt in our products. We’re continuing this reformulation strategy: by 2022 we’re aiming for 70% of our foods to meet these WHO-aligned standards. Nutrient profiling is a core part of our approach and we’ve set out our principles and latest thinking (PDF 313KB) Opens in new window on how it can help consumer choice.

We’ve launched our Future Foods ambitions to help people eat healthier diets and to help reduce the environmental impact of the global food chain.

Future Foods

A young girl smiling and eating a dessert

We’re helping millions of people to eat better, by offering affordable and healthier foods and beverages, and encouraging them to cook with healthy recipes. By offering more plant-based foods and meat and dairy alternatives, we’re also helping people to eat more nutritious ingredients like fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and legumes. We’re providing micronutrients through more fortification of our products, and increasing our ambition in reducing salt, sugar and calories.

Covid-19 has underlined what we already knew. Too much food is being lost and wasted, and cutting this down is key to fixing our broken food system. If we can tackle food loss and waste, we can also tackle wider issues like food security, greenhouse gas emissions associated with growing foods, and biodiversity. Waste-free world outlines our commitments to tackle food loss and waste.

Our goals

We launched our Future Foods commitments at the end of 2020.

€1 billion annual sales from plant-based meat and dairy alternatives by 2025–2027.

According to the Paris Climate Agreement, the food system currently makes up around 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation, natural habitats being turned into farmland, the use of artificial fertilisers and methane from livestock are all major factors in agriculture’s contribution to the climate crisis.

Eating more plant-based meals can be better for the planet, and better for all of us as consumers, as published in 2019 by the EAT-Lancet Commission. We want to make sure that everyone can be part of the move towards plant-based foods and alternative proteins. But if we want people to make the switch, we need plant-based options to be more accessible, affordable and appetising, as well as nutritious. They need to be the easy, obvious choice. That's the aim of our new goal.

We’re prioritising our R&D focus and investment in plant-based foods. The Vegetarian Butcher products are taking the lead – they’re now sold in 45 different countries, and following our partnership with Burger King, we’re expanding in Quick Service Restaurants, as well as in retail. We’re also continuing to grow our Hellmann’s vegan mayonnaise, entering new markets and offering new formats and flavours. And we’re scaling up our vegan ice cream business with our flagship brands Magnum, Ben & Jerry’s and Wall’s.

We’re pleased that our efforts so far have been recognised. In 2020, investor network FAIRR ranked us as the number one food manufacturer in its list of global food companies who are best prepared for the shift towards plant-based proteins.

Double the number of products sold that deliver positive nutrition by 2025.

Defined as products containing impactful amounts of vegetables, fruits, proteins, fibre, unsaturated fatty acids or micronutrients such as vitamins, zinc, iron and iodine.

We’ve been reformulating our foods to comply with our Highest Nutritional Standards by cutting down on salt, sugar, fats and calories. But if we are to succeed in helping people make the transition to healthier eating, we need to go further. That’s the aim of positive nutrition.

Working with internationally respected nutrition experts, we’ve defined what positive nutrition means: foods that are ‘nutrition positive’ contain significant, impactful amounts of crucial macronutrients, like vegetables or proteins, and/or micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals. We’ve found that adding positive nutrition to everyday products like our Knorr stocks and soups or our Lipton tea can help make healthier habits easier.

Our acquisition of Horlicks and Boost , cherished brands in South Asian households for generations, will also play a big role in delivering our positive nutrition commitments. Horlicks Classic, for example, contains nine nutrients (vitamin B6, B12, C, D, copper, folic acid, iron, selenium and zinc) and is clinically proven to support immunity.

70% of our portfolio to meet WHO-aligned nutritional standards by 2022.

We have achieved our USLP commitment to double the proportion of our portfolio that meets our Highest Nutritional Standards (HNS). By 2020, 61% of our portfolio complied with our WHO-aligned nutritional standards and we have the ambition to extend this to 70% by 2022.

We’re making sure our products are delicious and full of goodness; at the same time, we’re helping people achieve a healthier diet by further reducing nutrients of concern. In addition, we’re encouraging people to make nutritious choices through clear labelling and balanced portions .

95% of packaged ice cream to contain no more than 22 g total sugar per serving by 2025.

We’re aiming for 95% of our packaged ice creams to meet our new sugar target. This won’t be easy to achieve – we will need to reformulate our indulgent brands and we do not yet have technical solutions to reduce sugar and calories without impacting consumers’ experience.

95% of packaged ice cream to contain no more than 250 kcal per serving by 2025.

By 2015, 91% of our packaged ice creams contained no more than 250 kilocalories per serving, beating our 80% target for 2020.

We reached 93% by 2020, and now we’re pushing to get to 95%.

85% of our Foods portfolio to help consumers reduce their salt intake to no more than 5 g per day by 2022.

Through our USLP, we set a target to enable intakes of 5 g per day of salt for 75% of our portfolio by 2020. We achieved 77%.

Now we’re aiming to get to 85%. Innovations will help us to achieve our goals – a good example is our new Knorr zero-salt bouillon cubes which have been introduced across Brazil.