Skip to content
Three people sitting at a table in front of takeaway food cartons, drinking Lipton Ice Tea.

Our nutrition philosophy and approach

Average read time: 10 minutes

The fundamentals that underpin our strategy and how we make decisions and work with others across our Nutrition and Ice Cream businesses.

Hands of cropped unrecognisable woman and man passing salad bowl on the dining table

Everyone should be able to enjoy a nutritious diet. To make this happen, we’re aspiring to build a more sustainable food system that is better for people and the planet. Our brands are at the heart of our approach, inspiring people to adopt better diets without compromising on enjoyment. From global brands like Knorr, Hellmann’s and Wall’s to local favourites like Horlicks, our brands offer a wide range of tasty, affordable and accessible foods and beverages. We’re continuously improving the nutritional profile of our products and communicating transparently with consumers, partners and decision makers. We know a multistakeholder approach is needed to achieve our ambitions and we’re working with partners to deliver positive change.

We’ve set ourselves clear goals and priorities as outlined in our Positive Nutrition Action Plan (PDF 265.18 KB) (Opens in a pop-up window ). These are informed by the latest scientific consensus and international dietary guidelines, upheld by our leadership, and monitored by our governance processes.

Strong governance systems and clear lines of accountability (Opens in a pop-up window ) ensure we meet our high standards. We rely on our global network of experts in sustainability, nutrition and health to guide us in our decision making and also on a clear governance structure (PDF 58.03 KB) (Opens in a pop-up window ) to achieve the ambitions in our Positive Nutrition Action Plan. Our Annual Report and Accounts (Opens in a pop-up window ) details our progress.

Our work to improve the nutritional quality of our products, which began over 20 years ago, is led by science, informed by our experience and expertise, and shaped by our standards. By investing in improvement and innovation, we make our products nutritionally better and continue to meet people’s expectations for delicious foods and beverages. Read more about our nutrition journey. (PDF 9.53 MB) (Opens in a pop-up window )

Friends enjoying food outside at a table together

Building sustainable food systems

Our current food system leaves about a billion people undernourished or hungry (Opens in a pop-up window ), while over 2 billion are overweight or obese (Opens in a pop-up window ). Food systems generate (Opens in a pop-up window ) a quarter of our greenhouse gas emissions, and a third of all food (Opens in a pop-up window ) is lost or wasted. We envisage a world where everyone has access to enough nutritious food without detrimental effects on the environment. We want to help build sustainable food systems – founded on value chains that ensure food and nutrition security while respecting our planet’s boundaries – and recognise that we must work with consumers, partners and regulators to achieve this. As one of the world’s largest food businesses, our activities extend across the whole food production value chain and we seek to identify where we can have the greatest impact.

We have identified three focus areas:

What is a sustainable diet?

A sustainable diet is an eating pattern that is good for people and good for the planet. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (Opens in a pop-up window ), a sustainable diet is one that has low environmental impacts, contributes to food and nutrition security, and promotes healthy lives for both present and future generations.

In 2019, the EAT-Lancet Commission (Opens in a pop-up window ) published a report linking diet, human health, and environmental sustainability. They introduced the "planetary health diet," which emphasises the need for a substantial shift towards consuming more fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes, while reducing the intake of red meat and sugar to improve health and environmental outcomes.

visual of the EAT-Lancet planetary health diet plate

We define a sustainable diet as one that consists of:

  • A diverse range of vegetables, fruits, beans, other pulses, nuts and wholegrain foods.

  • A varied choice of protein-containing foods, specifically more plant sources of protein and less of those derived from animals, acknowledging that there may be regional differences.

  • Sustainably sourced (Opens in a pop-up window ) and produced foods, including both fresh and processed products.

  • Nutritionally balanced foods that provide sufficient vitamins, minerals, protein, unsaturated fats and fibre, as well as a limited intake of saturated fat, sugar and salt.

  • The right number of calories to meet a person’s energy needs while avoiding overconsumption.

  • Culturally acceptable foods that are available, accessible and affordable.

As our diets are made up of multiple meals, snacks, treats and beverages, it’s important to look at how much food is eaten as well as what food is eaten. Nutritional quality, portion size and frequency of consumption must all be considered when adopting sustainable diets.

The role of food processing

Almost all food and drink undergo some form of processing before being ready to consume. For example, we cook ingredients and process food to make them tasty and safe to eat. Processing can help make food safe for storage, reduce food waste and boost essential nutrients through fortification (Opens in a pop-up window ). It can also mean it is more convenient, affordable and more widely available.

We use quality ingredients from nature and apply our scientific knowledge and technological skills to craft foods that are delicious, nutritious and convenient. The process of making food at home and in a factory can be quite similar, the difference is mainly the scale of production and equipment used. Processed foods are the result of human ingenuity and nutritional innovation.

Helping everyone access sustainable diets

We believe adopting sustainable diets is an important part of creating a better food system. Our brands are well positioned to help consumers embrace sustainable diets. The vast majority of servings we provide are from products that are used during meal preparation to enhance taste and texture, such as bouillons, dressings and condiments.

Guided by leading-edge science, we enhance the nutritional quality of our product portfolio through innovation and reformulation (Opens in a pop-up window ). To make it easier for consumers to adopt plant-forward diets, we provide plant-based alternatives to meat, poultry, seafood and other products traditionally made with animal-derived ingredients such as eggs and dairy. We also increase access to nutrition (Opens in a pop-up window ) by looking at how we price and distribute our foods as well as showing people how to cook healthier meals through recipe inspiration and training.

Our work is recognised by peers and benchmarking organisations, for example:

Science-backed guidelines and positions

Our approach to promoting healthier diets is based on the latest scientific understanding of the role of nutrition for good health and wellbeing. Science and dietary guidance underpin Unilever’s Nutrition Standards, two internally developed sets of standards that guide our portfolio improvement:

Read about the goals (Opens in a pop-up window ) we’ve set against these standards and how we apply them to our products.

All our standards, positions, policies and commitments related to nutrition are applicable globally to every brand in our Nutrition and Ice Cream business groups, unless a local regulation is stricter.

Transparent communication is key

We know consumers need clear and easy-to-understand nutritional information about a product so they can make an informed decision about their meal, snack, treat or beverage. We provide transparent, fact-based nutrition information on 99.8% of our packaging worldwide. We apply voluntary government-endorsed front-of-pack labels, such as UK traffic lights, Nutri-Score, Health Star Rating and various Healthy Choice logos. We apply our advertising and marketing principles (Opens in a pop-up window ) to develop clear and responsible communications about food and beverages, including those for children. All our nutrition and health claims are supported by scientific evidence and meet set criteria (PDF 102.47 KB) (Opens in a pop-up window ) to ensure that consumers receive relevant, concise and meaningful information.

Working in partnership

We know a collective shift to more sustainable diets requires the efforts of multiple stakeholders. We work with others to innovate (Opens in a pop-up window ) and build solutions to the nutrition challenges our consumers face. We also collaborate with various organisations to advocate for science-backed improvements. Examples of our engagement include:

Back to top