Improving nutrition

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Grown for good

We believe in the importance of nutritious, plant-based food, grown sustainably.

grown for good

People’s eating habits are changing

When choosing what foods and drinks to buy, most people consider taste as the first priority. But today, more and more people also want to know that the products they are buying are nutritious, have been grown without harming the environment, and that farm workers have been paid fairly and treated well.

Plant-based diets are becoming especially popular, with health and concern for the environment at their core. We are committed to developing plant-based products to both respond to and influence consumer demand. By promoting plant-based alternatives and committing to sourcing 100% of our agricultural raw materials sustainably, we will reduce our environmental impact and provide consumers with more choice.

This is what ‘Grown for good’ is all about.

Sourcing ingredients sustainably

Not only is sustainable farming better for the planet, it's shown to increase yields too. This, in turn, boosts farmer incomes and food security. We have committed to the sustainable sourcing of our key agricultural commodities. In 2017, 56% of our agricultural raw materials were sustainably sourced, including 98% of our top 13 vegetables and herbs used in our Knorr sauces, soups and seasonings.

We buy around 2% of the world’s tomatoes for our ketchup and savoury products. By the end of 2017, almost 100% of our tomatoes were from sustainable sources. Cocoa is another key ingredient for our products. We buy around 1% of the global production of cocoa, the majority of which is used in our ice creams, such as Ben & Jerry’s and Magnum.

In 2017, Ben & Jerry’s sourced all its cocoa from sustainable sources and Magnum achieved 98%. Our Breyers ice cream is made with real vanilla, certified as sustainably sourced by the Rainforest Alliance, and benefiting 4,000 Madagascan farmers who supply all the vanilla for Breyers.

In 2017 – three years ahead of schedule – all Hellmann’s products in Canada were made with 100% responsibly-sourced canola oil, as well as free-range eggs. And 72% of the soy oil needed for products, such as Hellmann’s, was sustainably sourced.

Our Pure Leaf teas are all sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified estates. This certification ensures that production methods are protecting the farms’ soil and water sources, while using other eco-practices like hydro-electric power and planting native trees. Pure Leaf teas come from multiple countries and make up many different varieties and flavours. Farmers in each region adapt to their specific landscapes, employing their own unique tactics for protecting the tea they are growing while, in return, protecting the ecosystem on which they depend.


Woman giving a cooking demonstration to schoolchildren

Knorr: The taste of sustainability

Farming is hard work. Early mornings, physical exertion and hot sun – work made harder by the impacts of climate change, irregular weather patterns and increasingly strained natural resources. Add to this the pressure to be even more productive to feed growing populations, it is not surprising that young rural people are heading to the cities to find work, and that the average age of a farmer is 60.1

This has serious implications for the future of farming communities, food and drink companies, and consumers – all of whom rely on a secure supply of raw ingredients. Fortunately, there is a solution – sustainable agriculture. Our updated Unilever Sustainable Agriculture Code (SAC) (PDF | 2MB), which we are piloting at scale, is helping improve farming practices, enabling farmers to become more profitable, while protecting natural resources.

Sustainable agriculture in action

Knorr’s purpose is to open hearts and minds through the power of flavour, using authentic products from natural, nutritious and sustainably sourced ingredients. The brand has been working with vegetable and herb growers around the world since 2011. So far, 98% of the top 13 vegetables and herbs in our Knorr sauces, soups and seasonings are sourced sustainably.

Our Knorr Partnership Fund invests €1 million every year in co-funded projects with suppliers for their farmers. This helps them meet, or go beyond, SAC requirements. So far, we have funded over 70 projects, and farmers who’ve been in our programme for three years have together saved 10.6 million litres of irrigation water. That’s the equivalent of 55,000 average showers. Farms that demonstrate the highest standards are awarded Knorr Landmark Farm status.

The Landmark Farms are passionate about sustainability and open their doors to share fascinating insights into everyday life on their farms. Since 2011, we are proud to have helped over 30 farms achieve this status.

We also help many smallholder spice farmers in our supply chain to access training and support. And in Nigeria, Knorr is partnering with the International Fund for Agricultural Development to train farmers in sustainable agriculture, so they can become part of our supply chain and improve their livelihoods.

Driving consumer demand for sustainable products

Knorr’s Sustainability Partnership on-pack logo tells people that at least 50% of the product contains sustainably grown ingredients, or that 100% of the main ingredient is sustainably grown. In 2017, 15 Knorr country websites shared stories of our farmers – from growing sustainable tomatoes in Turkey and tarragon in France, to pumpkins in Australia. In Brazil, Knorr’s ‘Know me better’ sustainability campaign reached an estimated 31.8 million people. And in Spain, media coverage of Knorr’s second National Sustainable Agriculture Day reached over 12.5 million people.

Raising awareness of sustainable products helps consumers do their bit to care for the environment – from farm to fork. And as Knorr Chef, Luigi Carola, says “Sustainability is not only essential for the future of our planet, I believe it also helps deliver the very best taste.” Sustainable ingredients lead to rich flavours, sweet vegetables and feel-good food all round.

Picked at their peak

People are increasingly looking for foods made with natural ingredients. Millennials, in particular, are conscious of their eating habits. According to the Organic Trade Association, millennials eat as much as 52% more vegetables than their older relatives. This shift is inevitably changing the way people think about food.

We believe in nutritious diets, using more variety, seasonable foods, less meat, more fruits and vegetables, legumes and wholegrains, and more healthy oils and plant-based foods. Our foods and drinks help millions of people access good ingredients every day. We carefully select ingredients at their peak to support nutritional needs. For example, our Kissan ketchups, and Knorr soups and meal kits use vegetables as core ingredients. In Europe, we provide around 700 million servings of vegetables every year through our soups alone.

In 2017, we incorporated even more vegetables into our products. For example, in Israel we introduced three cooking sauces, with each jar containing 0.5 kg of tomatoes and in compliance with our Highest Nutritional Standards (HNS). In Europe, we introduced five HNS-compliant Knorr dry soups that contain up to 290 grams of vegetables per serving.

Flora, Becel and Rama spreads, and Hellmann’s mayonnaise are made with high-quality sunflower seed, rapeseed or soybean oils – all containing essential fats. Lipton, Pure Leaf, PG Tips and Pukka teas contain no calories when drunk without milk and sugar, and are a rich source of flavonoids. We promote tea goodness, such as from Lipton Green Tea, through various consumer campaigns.

Many of our food products contain ancient grains, such as Knorr’s range of One Skillet Meals in the US. These feature barley, farro, quinoa and whole wheat couscous, seasoned with herbs and spices, with no artificial flavours or colours from artificial sources. In India, in 2018, Lever Ayush will offer a range of wholesome ready-to-cook breakfast mixes, inspired by Ayurveda healing practices and made with 100% natural ingredients, like the supergrain millet.

Locked in goodness: The benefits of dried food

Vegetables form a significant source of essential nutrients, but average daily vegetable intake is below recommendations in both developed and developing countries.

Our dried foods include ingredients like vegetables and herbs that are harvested at their peak. This locks in the goodness and makes food safe, nutritious, tasty and convenient. Drying preserves the food, helping to avoid waste, and dried foods make it easier to prepare healthy, varied meals. They can be considered a relevant source of vegetables that can significantly contribute towards the daily recommended vegetable intake. As leaders in dried food solutions, Unilever was proud to give a presentation about the goodness of drying at the 2017 International Conference on Nutrition.

Drying is one of the most natural ways to preserve food. We don’t need to add any preservatives, and it protects the natural goodness and flavour.

Karin van het Hof, Unilever Nutrition and Health Foods Director

Nature’s kitchen

People’s preference for natural ingredients is driving demand for alternative diets. In 2017, 26% of Americans ate less meat, and ‘health’ is now the main association with vegan food, over ‘animal welfare.’2 We’re responding to this demand, introducing Hellmann’s Carefully Crafted Vegan Dressing, vegan Cornetto and Swedish Glace ice creams. And in North America, we offer Vegan Action-certified I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!® and Becel® Vegan.

Across Europe, we are partnering with the European Vegetarian Union and sell more of Knorr’s Naturally Tasty range. In France, we offer instant Simply Tasty Pots – suitable for vegetarians – which are rich in vegetables, a source of fibre and made with natural ingredients. They also meet our Highest Nutritional Standards. And in the Netherlands, Unox partnered with The Vegetarian Butcher to introduce a plant-based hacked mince meatballs recipe, which sold 100,000 packs within the first two months. The Vegetarian Butcher shares our mission to save the planet, and this is our first ever co-branded product.

We expanded our organic offerings, with new I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!® and Brummel & Brown non-GMO Organic spreads. In only one year, Hellmann’s Organic Mayonnaise has become the number one organic mayonnaise in the US, while doubling the value of the organic mayonnaise market. We have now introduced Hellmann’s Organic to a number of other markets. We also offer gluten-free options for Ben & Jerry’s and Cornetto, lactose-free options for Carte D’Or, and dairy-free Ben & Jerry’s varieties.

We want to make it easier for people to find their dietary preferences on the shelf. So, we have added the European Vegetarian Union’s logo to around 500 of our products, including Hellmann's, Flora and Knorr. And to help chefs meet this growing trend, an estimated 20% of Unilever Food Solutions’ (UFS) online recipes are now vegetarian and plant-based inspirations, like Spicy Black Bean Burgers. UFS works with partners to help meet consumer demand for diverse diets. For example, in 2017, UFS published its first Gluten-Free Guide with The Coeliac Society of Ireland.


Hellmann's Mayonnaise advert

Hellmann’s: On the side of food

At just 14, young Richard Hellmann was already fostering a love of food as an apprentice at his local food market. By 1913, he was married to Margaret, living in New York, and together they fulfilled their dream of opening a shop. It was here, at Hellmann’s Delicatessen, that the legendary Hellmann’s Mayonnaise was born.

Proud of his product, Richard tied his signature blue ribbon to jars that met the highest quality standards. That blue-ribbon standard is tied to everything Hellmann’s does to this day. And in record time, Hellmann’s grew to become the number one mayonnaise brand, thanks to its unmistakeable taste.3

Today, the blue-ribbon quality standard also applies to the farming practices we adopt and doing right by the people who help us make Hellmann’s. Not just because we think it makes our products more appealing to consumers, but because it’s the right thing to do. It’s why we only use 100% free-range eggs in Europe and North America, and source 100% of our oils responsibly to make our mayonnaise. 

It’s why our ketchup is made with 100% sustainably grown tomatoes in Europe and Latin America. And why we’re always working to create new products that help fight food waste or use less energy in their production.

Sharing the passion

Hellmann’s mayonnaises, ketchups and dressings, for example, source from Hellmann’s Blue Ribbon Farms. These farms monitor and work to improve their sustainability efforts – from how they use their land, to how they reduce their carbon footprint. The workers on the farms are passionate about improving sustainability and comply with our Unilever Sustainable Agriculture Code.

They are also passionate about sharing their work with the world. For example, the Stockbrugger’s Blue Ribbon canola farm in Canada shows urban kids the inner workings of the farm. They learn about the natural and sustainably sourced ingredients used in our Hellmann’s products. In addition, we produced a video on Blue Ribbon farms called ‘Project Seeds’. This asked consumers ‘where does it come from?’ and has received 9.3 million views to date, helping to raise awareness about sustainable food.

As part of our ‘Grow with Us’ campaign, we livestreamed from our Blue Ribbon farms. This allowed people to interact with the farmers and ask them questions. So far, 95 million people have seen that Hellmann’s ketchup is made from 100% real, sustainable sun-ripened tomatoes. After the campaign, 88% of Brazilian people surveyed agreed that Hellmann’s ketchup is made from sustainable tomatoes (up from 50% before the campaign), with 89% believing that ours is the best ketchup, and 82% saying it’s worth paying more for.

Natural and sustainably sourced ingredients support people’s appetite for plant-based diets and helps them reconnect with nature… Hellmann’s sums up ‘Grown for good’.

Our partnerships: From farmers to professors

We work with a variety of partners: farmers, suppliers, academics, scientists, governments, health authorities, NGOs, and even our competitors, to ensure we use the best that nature has to offer in our products.

We have partnerships with Solidaridad in Africa, Latin America and Asia; with the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership in Africa, South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean; and with the Rainforest Alliance. These are supporting the transition of many smallholder farmers in our supply chain to sustainable agricultural practices. Find out more about how we are working with smallholder farmers and our other partnerships to help make sustainable ingredients more widely available.

1 Food and agriculture organization of the United Nations (PDF - 627kB)

2 Food Navigator USA

3 Euromonitor International Ltd; Packaged Foods 2017 edition, retail value sales, umbrella brand name classification (includes all Hellmann’s and Best Foods brand sales), 2016 data.

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