Improving nutrition

This work supports the following UN Sustainable Development Goals

  • Zero Hunger
  • Good Health and Wellbeing
  • Partnership For The Goals
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  4. Health & well-being: in our kitchen

Health & well-being: in our kitchen

We believe in nutritious food grown sustainably.

Making our foods even better

Many people realise that what they eat influences their health, their mood, and how much they can get done each day. Food affects the way people look and, as our Knorr #LoveAtFirstTaste advert shows, the foods we eat can even tell us about people’s personalities. People want to feel good and food plays a central role in that.

However, the reality is that many of us don’t eat well. The Global Nutrition Report 2017 says that at least one in three people experience malnutrition in some form, whether it’s eating too much or too little. In fact, almost every country in the world is facing a serious nutrition-related challenge.

Diet-related non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, account for more than half of the global burden of disease. Heart disease is the world’s number one cause of death, with high cholesterol being one of the key risk factors. At the same time, more than 2 billion people don’t get enough vitamins and minerals, particularly in developing and emerging countries. Micronutrient deficiencies are usually caused by a lack of access to critical foods like fruit and vegetables. These can make people more vulnerable to disease, impair their mental development and decrease their ability to earn a living.

As our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan nutrition pillar and our new Sustainable Nutrition strategy both acknowledge, diet must be part of the solution to tackle the double burden of malnutrition. A healthier diet means more variety and seasonal foods, less meat, and less salt, fat and sugar. It means using more natural ingredients such as fruit and vegetables, healthy oils, legumes and wholegrains. And it means consuming more plant-based foods and natural drinks, such as tea.

We know that what we do in our kitchen helps you in yours. Our chefs work hand-in-hand with our nutritionists around the world to ensure we offer tasty and responsible foods and beverages. On the following pages, you will read about some of the enhancements we have made in 2017 – reducing salt, sugar and saturated fats, and enhancing positive nutrition. These improvements add up to a big impact on the health of the people who enjoy our products every day.

Pioneering Nutrition Enhancement Programme

In 2003, we launched our pioneering Nutrition Enhancement Programme (NEP) to reduce levels of salt, saturated and trans fats, and sugar across our portfolio. So far, we have significantly reduced all key nutrients of concern, including the elimination of trans fats (PDF | 800KB) from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

We share our progress at international conferences and publish our research – such as our methodology – in peer-reviewed scientific journals.1 We are continually adapting and improving our approach, learning from many years’ experience of reformulation and meeting consumer demand. We share these lessons with health experts around the world and have published our evolved approach.

In addition, we now assess our products through a Sustainable Nutrition lens to identify areas for improvement. We use our Eco Design tool to assess choices of ingredients, formulation and packaging, against USLP targets in areas such as health and hygiene, nutrition, greenhouse gas emissions, waste, water and sustainable sourcing. Results from this assessment are linked to our Innovation Project Management system for review by senior leaders.

Better products infographic

Going further

We are committed to fortifying our foods and drinks, adding essential nutrients to help vulnerable people eat more nutritiously. We continually review our reformulation approach. For instance, we have learnt that to maximise impact, we must focus on products consumed most frequently and in greatest volumes, and that taste is still a key factor for success.

Read more about how we are lowering salt, sugar, calories and saturated fat, and fortifying our products.

1 Nijman et al. EJCN. 2007; 61(4): 461-471; Dötsch-Klerk, et al. FST March 2015 Dotsch-Klerk et al. EJCN 2015;69(7):1-6.

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