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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  3. Improving nutrition
  4. Nutritious cooking

Nutritious cooking

We want to help people live better by eating tasty and nutritious, home-cooked food.

Bowl of healthy food

Deliciously inspiring

Life today is very different to our grandparents’ generation, and even our parents’. With 24-hour, on-demand TV programmes, video games and social media, the pull of quick fix, easy-to-access entertainment is strong, and healthy living is often perceived as harder work. The World Health Organization has expressed concern that many adolescents lack the necessary cooking skills to ensure healthier futures.1

We believe delicious and nutritious food should be within everyone’s reach. We are empowering people to cook healthy meals with varied ingredients, in flexible ways that suit different lifestyles and budgets.

On our packs and online, we suggest 100,000 recipe ideas. Our Healthy Recipe Framework (PDF | 991KB) ensures they are aligned with our Highest Nutritional Standards, and are based on expert recommendations. From Lipton’s green tea recipes to delicious desserts featuring Carte D’Or ice creams, we aim to inspire creative and nutritious cooking. Knorr also displays on-pack shopping lists and tips to make it even easier for people to start cooking with nutritious ingredients.

For people who do cook, we understand that many are pressed for time and want to get dinner on the table as quickly as possible. Research shows that people in the US today use less ingredients and make fewer side dishes. According to research, one in five spends only 15 minutes preparing dinner on an average weekday2, and almost 90% don’t eat enough vegetables3. Our Knorr Sides encourage people to add protein and fresh vegetables to transform side dishes into fool-proof, nutritious main meals cooked at home.

Inspiring young people to cook

Getting kids to cook makes them more willing to try new foods. Unilever provides help for parents on how to encourage young chefs to cook their own delicious, nutritious food. Top tips include making sure to choose age-appropriate tasks, teaching kitchen safety, inspiring creativity and above all, making it fun! See here for more tips.

Let’s get cooking!

Following recipes can be daunting for someone who’s never been taught how to cook, so we provide cookery classes, especially to vulnerable groups. In the US, for example, we introduced our Make Meals that Do More retailer programme. This teaches cooking skills, encourages consumers to eat healthily and promotes sustainability. The programme also partnered with Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture to train high school teachers in Miami, Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago. The curriculum focuses on inspiring students to become ‘food citizens’ to make a meaningful impact on their personal, environmental and community health.

One-third of East Harlem residents are obese, and diabetes there is nearly double the rest of Manhattan. In 2017, our private–public partnership Growing Roots improved access to fresh food and taught people how to cook on a tight budget. Our chefs and dieticians developed 16 delicious, culturally appropriate, nutritious recipes for cooking classes, community festivals and in-store activities. As a result, almost 600 kg of vegetables have been harvested, and over 285 kg of food scraps have been donated for compost. 52% of residents say they are cooking more vegetables and 85% say they are trying to prepare healthier meals.

In addition, we partnered with the Whole Kids Foundation and sponsored 20 K-12 gardens in underserved schools in Miami, Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago. These provide the children with an edible garden space to learn more about how fresh food grows, tastes and can be cooked.

Since 2010, we have partnered with ‘Young People at a Healthy Weight’ (JOGG) in the Netherlands. JOGG is a movement, in 120 municipalities, which encourages everyone to make healthy food and exercise an easy and attractive lifestyle option for young people (0–19 years). In 2017, Unilever employees were invited to provide guest lectures to primary schools about healthy diets and lifestyles, using a specially-designed educational pack for children aged 8–12 years.

The material focused on energy balance and was developed with educational expert Chemie3 (C3), Jet-Net and JOGG. To date, some 390 children were reached with the smoothie lectures and materials are made available to all schools, including those in JOGG communities.

In Mexico, Knorr runs ‘Conscious eating’ workshops to help people manage their weight better. The workshops help participants to identify the thoughts and emotions that influence their eating habits, recognising the power of eating together as a family, and learning how to create tasty, more nutritious meals. Our employees also volunteered to hold a cooking and tasting workshop for 100 women. The recipes made featured ingredients provided by the government to low-income families.

And in the Philippines, we are the first company to use the Food and Nutrition Research Institute’s (FNRI) Healthy Eating Plate. We have developed a cooking course for low-income moms, and a cooking contest using Knorr products to prepare dishes on a daily family income of PHP400 (€7). As a result, 36 new Knorr recipes were created and a toolkit produced for nationwide implementation by FNRI. This programme has reached over 246,000 people.

Knorr’s Green Food Steps programme

Toyin Saraki

Toyin Saraki is a leading African health campaigner and Founder-President of Wellbeing Foundation Africa.

Toyin knows with her own eyes the adverse effects of malnutrition. Iron deficiency is a big problem in Nigeria, and around half of women have anaemia because of it. Toyin She understands the huge impact that just a few small steps in the kitchen can have in improving wellness. Here, she offers her perspective on Knorr’s Green Food Steps initiative to promote nutritious cooking.

Is cooking something you personally enjoy?

“Yes, very much so. It helps me relax. As a Nigerian, I love cooking our national dishes. But I cook from a wide range of other cultures as well. I like there to be lots of colours on the plate. So I enjoy cooking with red peppers and various spices too. It makes the food tastier and increases its nutritional content.”

‘Green Steps’ encourages mothers to pass on nutritious recipes to their children. Is that a good approach in your opinion?

“For sure. I was taught to cook by my mother when I was young. As a mother now myself, I’ve taught my daughters and my son to cook. I see nutritious cooking as an investment – a human investment. It’s all about teaching us how to eat right and respect our bodies. If we can teach people about the importance of having iron-rich food, and fortifying food where necessary, we could save millions of people from anaemia.”

Knorr’s Green Food Steps was presented by Unilever at the 2017 International Conference on Nutrition. So far, it’s reached over 220,000 women and teenage girls, and 23 million people through media. In 2018, the programme will be scaled in Nigeria through the Heroes for Change project, which helps nutrition ambassadors use Facebook’s Free Basics to connect communities with nutrition information. The programme will also be rolled out in Kenya and Indonesia.

Eating out healthily – a contradiction?

In the US in 1970, 25.9% of food spend was on eating out of the home. By 2012, this rose to 43.1%4, Today, the average household spends over $3,000 every year eating out.3 However, we know that health and nutrition are not the first priorities for most people when eating out, and they don’t want to compromise on taste or the feeling that eating out is a treat.5

Across the world, we use our brands, extensive chef networks and key global partnerships to champion cooking that is better for people and the planet. Unilever Food Solutions – our dedicated food service business – is helping 2 million chefs and cooks, in 74 countries, to produce healthier and even more delicious meals for their customers. For example, working with Knorr chefs, Unilever Food Solutions led a project to create a Chefs’ Manifesto, with the aim of supporting chefs from 37 countries in influencing healthy diets and taking action on Zero Hunger (SDG2) issues.

Unilever Food Solutions is delighting consumers eating out of the home, with tasty dishes containing less salt. For example, in Russia, 77% of Unilever Food Solutions products are now compliant with our Highest Nutritional Standards (HNS). In Turkey, we reduced salt in two popular dressings: Hellmann’s ketchup (by 37%), Hellmann’s BBQ sauce (15%). We also aligned two Meal Makers with our ‘5g of salt a day’ commitment, and we continue to encourage salt reduction through on-pack communication like our ‘no added salt’ logo. In India, we launched eight varieties of Knorr Chef’s Masala, which meet sodium HNS benchmarks.

Unilever Food Solutions supports chefs in care homes and hospitals with training and tools to develop tasty recipes to meet the nutritional needs of older people. One-third of older people admitted to these facilities are at risk of malnutrition and their nutritional needs differ from younger adults. We partner with geriatric associations and nutritional experts in ten countries, for example at the 2017 German Nutrition Association Congress.

In addition, Unilever Food Solutions’ Seductive Nutrition initiative helps food services improve the nutritional content of their most popular dishes, like reducing 100 kilocalories from each. This programme runs in North America, South Africa and north-eastern Europe. In North America alone, we helped remove over 10 billion calories from menus. Together, these changes will have a big impact on eating out healthily.

1 (PDF - 523kB)

2 International Food Information Council Foundation. Food & Health Survey 2015 (PDF | 2MB)

3 Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

4 US Department of Agriculture

5 US Bureau of Labor Statistics (PDF | 7MB)

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