Good fats & oils from plants
We are using less saturated and more polyunsaturated fat from plant-based oils.
The two sides of fat
Fat is an essential part of our diet. It helps the body absorb certain nutrients and provides us with energy. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 20% and 35% of our energy intake should come from fats.1
However, too much saturated fat can increase the risk of developing heart disease, and WHO recommends replacing saturated fat with omega 3 and omega 6 polyunsaturated fats. In most countries, people don’t eat the recommended daily amounts of polyunsaturated fats.
Love your heart
We communicate about the goodness of plant-based oils like sunflower, linseed and rapeseed. We also have a long heritage of providing products that help people look after their heart health. Blue Band has been enjoyed at the breakfast table since the 1920s, and today contains reduced saturated fat and significantly increased polyunsaturated fats. Our Becel/Flora soft-spreads and liquids are made with plant oils, containing polyunsaturated fat and vitamins A, D and E.
We continually source innovative, healthy oils. For example, in 2017, we introduced Becel®Olive Plus™ in Canada, a liquid blend of canola, extra virgin olive and mid-oleic sunflower oils. This is low in saturated fat, contains no trans fat, and delivers a source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fat. In the Netherlands, we introduced Becel made with coconut oil, Becel with walnut oil and Becel with avocado oil, all meeting our Highest Nutritional Standards (HNS).
In 2018, we will offer these in more countries. Our ProActiv ranges contain plant sterols, known for their cholesterol-lowering properties.2 Since 2004, we have added mini health drinks, milk and yoghurt to the range.
Following the success of our 100% plant-based Flora Freedom in the UK, in 2017, we launched 100% plant-based Becel in the Netherlands, and Fruit d’Or in France. In Spain, we launched organic Flora, and have replaced palm with sunflower oil in five Flora biscuit variants, improving their nutritional profile. We launched a campaign communicating the goodness of the oils used in our Hellmann’s, Calvé and Ligeresa mayonnaises, with media coverage exposing the ‘myths and truths of mayo’.
Taste is central to encouraging people to switch from products higher in saturated fat. While our spreads that are low in saturated fat still appeal to consumers, many of our lower saturated fat products are competing with products higher in saturated fat, such as butter which has a different taste and consistency. Indeed, some of our newly-formulated products now contain more saturated fat than our target, to deliver the taste and culinary performance consumers want. This was a difficult decision, but our vegetable spreads are still the healthier option in the market compared to butter.
Becel/Flora mélanges are currently available in over ten countries. In 2017, in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, we relaunched Rama mélanges alongside our regular margarines, raising awareness of their natural, plant-based ingredients.
Our trans fats story
Trans fats (also known as ‘trans fatty acids’), elevate ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol and lower ‘good’ (HDL) cholesterol. Health experts recommend that we should reduce our intake of trans fats, to as low a level as possible, to help prevent heart disease.
Trans fats occur naturally in butter, cheese and meat. In the food industry, a process called hydrogenation is sometimes used to convert vegetable oils into solid fats for greater functionality, stability and shelf life. When a fat is partially hydrogenated, this process produces trans fats. Importantly, however, full hydrogenation does not result in trans fat production.
By 2012, we had removed trans fats from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils from across our portfolio, both in retail and foodservice – see our position statement (PDF | 800KB). This approach focuses on the main ingredients in our recipes and does not include traces of trans fats from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil that may be found in some flavours or emulsifiers. We have published our definition and approach to removing trans fats from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.3
Our spreads legacy
We believe our efforts have made a meaningful contribution to reducing saturated fat in people’s diets, from reducing saturated fat in our products to promoting awareness of heart health, in collaboration with health authorities and healthcare professionals. We are confident this legacy will continue once our Spreads business is under new ownership.
1 Joint WHO/FAO Expert Consultation. WHO Technical Report Series 916. Geneva 2003
2 Our INVEST study, “Effect of a plant sterol-enriched spread on biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction and low-grade inflammation in hypercholesterolaemic subjects” was published in Journal of Nutritional Science in 2017. The paper was selected by the Nutrition Society as paper of the Month for March 2017.
3 See Melnikov S & Zevenbergen H, ‘Implementation of removing trans fatty acids originating from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils’. New Food 2012; 5: 44–46. This approach focuses on main ingredients in our recipes and does not include traces of trans fats from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil that may be found in some flavours or emulsifiers.