Affordable & accessible for everyone
We are making our products affordable and accessible for people wherever they live.
Poverty shouldn't mean poor food
According to the World Food Programme, 821 million people – that’s one in nine – go to bed hungry each night. Ensuring accessibility and affordability of foods containing good fats, wholegrains, fruits and vegetables, vitamins and minerals – whether fresh, dried or frozen – is crucial. Food poverty is affecting people globally in both developed and emerging markets.
We are addressing affordability and accessibility by ensuring our products are represented across the full price and package size range (from sachets to family packs). In particular, we ensure we do this in emerging markets, like South East Asia, Africa and Latin America, where we set strategic pricing guidelines, including pricing below the market average to reach lower income groups.
Developing nutritious products is an important first step for food companies. However, ensuring they are available in affordable formats for people on low-incomes, and accessible to people no matter where they live, is just as important. We want to offer nutritious foods and refreshments for all people.Angela Klute, our Vice President Foods & Refreshment, Africa
As part of our innovation process, we conduct extensive research to evaluate affordability, pricing and purchase intention among people on low incomes. We also recently launched a holistic cost-managing platform – allowing us to minimise or completely offset changes, such as ongoing currency fluctuations or material inflation. This means we can avoid passing extra costs onto consumers.
To promote affordable, nutritious products, we offer discounts, price promotions and coupons, and engage with shoppers through promoters and dieticians. Globally, we sell through discount channels.
Our brands also give people tips on how to eat balanced diets on a budget. In the Philippines, for example, Knorr ran the MOMs (Make your Own Meals) Challenge. Here, we were the first company to use the Food and Nutrition Research Institute’s (FNRI) Healthy Eating Plate. We developed a cooking course for low-income mothers and a cooking contest using Knorr products to prepare dishes on a daily family income of PHP400 (€7). As a result, over 30 recipes were created and the Pinggang Pinoy® food guide was produced by FNRI.
Make Meals that Do More – fighting hunger in the US
Food insecurity isn’t just a challenge affecting developing and emerging countries. Even in the world’s richest nation, the US, one in six children struggle with hunger at some point during the year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Our Make Meals that Do More programme aims to help people in underserved communities access nutritious food, and cook delicious, budget-friendly meals. We created a toolkit for nutritionists to help reach people in stores, as well as a new, dedicated website for consumers, which includes easy to prepare recipes.
We also joined Walmart in its ‘Fight Hunger. Spark Change’ campaign. Together, we are giving millions of people an opportunity to help their local Feeding America food bank, to support people struggling with hunger. In April 2018, we donated the equivalent of one meal for every participating Hellmann’s, Knorr or Ben & Jerry’s product purchased at U.S. and Puerto Rico Walmart stores, or on Walmart.com. And we guaranteed a minimum total donation of $150,000, up to a maximum of $2 million.
Improving access in remote areas
For all brands, we take into account distribution. We found that in some countries, traditional distribution channels weren’t reaching people in remote areas. So, we developed a network of small-scale retailers to help us improve access to nutritious, affordable products. At the same time, we believe this will enable 1 billion more people to enjoy our brands, providing us with a vital opportunity for sustainable growth.
For example, our unique Shakti (or ‘power’) model in India involves dedicated rural women being trained to distribute Unilever products where they live and in neighbouring villages. As our brand ambassadors, they spread messages of health and hygiene, as well as selling nutritious, affordable products to low-income families living in remote areas. We are now adapting this model in several South-East Asian, African and Latin American markets.
Over ten years supporting UN WFP home-grown school meals
Since 2007, Unilever has contributed over $33.5 million to the UN World Food Programme’s (WFP) mission to provide good nutrition to those in need. This has included support for WFP’s school meals programme, which provides pupils with either a nutritious cooked meal or high energy biscuits during their school day.
Studies have shown that the provision of school meals increases enrolment and attainment as well as reducing incidences of micronutrient deficiencies, such as anaemia. This has an impact on the families of the school children and the wider community. Every $1 invested in school feeding activities yields up to $10 in economic returns.
Our long-standing work with WFP on school meals demonstrates the power of partnerships and how brands can use their marketing expertise and consumer reach to draw much needed attention to social challenges. For example, in various countries, Unilever works with retailers to raise funds and awareness for WFP’s work through in-store activations.
In 2017, retail campaigns run by Unilever Germany and Switzerland provided school meals to over 80,000 children in Bangladesh. Our Knorr brand has also provided over 3 million school meals to children in Kenya, Colombia and the Philippines, through a series of #sharethemeal campaigns organised around the UN’s annual World Food Day on 16 October.
Alongside financing, Unilever helped develop behaviour change communications activities to complement WFP’s school meals programmes. In Samburu and Marsabit counties in Kenya, education materials on health, hygiene and nutrition were rolled out to 4,500 pupils – helping to build their understanding of life-saving practices such as handwashing with soap.
Support from partners, such as Unilever, has also helped WFP strengthen local capacity to ensure national governments can manage their own school feeding programmes. In summer 2018 the Kenya programme transitioned to Government control – representing a huge win for the future of these critical programmes and the thousands of young lives they support.
This work contributes to the UN Sustainable Development Goal