Improving nutrition

This work supports the following UN Sustainable Development Goals

  • Good Health and Wellbeing
  • Partnership For The Goals

Healthy nutrition habits

We use our scale and reach to help people eat a healthier diet.

Father and daughter in the kitchen

Healthy eating in the home

Life today is very different from our grandparents’, and even our parents’, generation. Everyday activities such as cooking are competing for attention with our busy lifestyles balancing work and home life. Added to this, healthy living is often perceived as harder work and time consuming. Because of our ‘need for speed’, people tend to use fewer ingredients and make fewer side dishes, including vegetables. In Europe, the World Health Organization (PDF - 532kb) has expressed concern that many adolescents lack the necessary cooking skills to ensure healthier futures.

We want to make it easier for people to live better by eating tasty and nutritious food. We’re empowering people to cook healthy meals with varied ingredients, in flexible ways that suit different lifestyles and budgets. Moreover, we communicate on how treats can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, for example with our ‘Responsibly Made for Kids’ logo on ice cream.

Healthy nutrition habits

Encouraging healthy eating through recipes

One way of encouraging behaviour change is through recipe suggestions on our packs and online where we have 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 main course and side dishes featuring Knorr’s range, we aim to inspire creative and nutritious cooking.

Another example is that Knorr teamed up with WWF-UK, leading scientists, nutritionists and agricultural experts, to compile the Future 50 Foods report. The report highlights 50 nutritious, plant-based ingredients for a more sustainable food system, which can be incorporated into daily meals. The intention is to inspire people to try new foods and experiment with new flavours, using ingredients that are good for the planet and for our health. For the past nine months, Knorr chefs have been experimenting with each of the 50 ingredients to create recipes that will be featured on Knorr websites, in-store and on pack.

Our Make Meals that Do More programme in the US offers delicious and nutritious recipes for everyday meals that can fit into a balanced, healthy lifestyle. The recipes improve access to fresh food and nutrition education in underserved communities. We promote the programme through eight major customers and with key nutrition influencers.

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 choosing age-appropriate tasks, teaching kitchen safety, inspiring creativity and above all, making it fun. See here for more tips.

Across the world, Knorr displays on-pack shopping lists and tips to make it even easier for people to start cooking with nutritious ingredients. Our country websites feature delicious Knorr recipes that encourage people to eat more plant-based foods, helping people discover new flavours and diversify their diet towards a more sustainable food future.

Known as Royco in Indonesia, Knorr and the Unilever Foundation are encouraging people to cook with vegetables and tackle iron deficiency. Yuk Nyayur Yuk means ‘Let’s eat vegetables’ and is the name of our programme to encourage teenage girls and mothers in rural areas to eat iron-rich vegetables. The programme teaches participants to cook easy, affordable, accessible and popular local dishes, like nasi goreng (stir fried rice) with spinach. So far, we’ve reached over 15,000 teens and mothers who put into practice what they’ve learnt, and local authorities have acknowledged the positive impact of the programme.


Cooking in the kitchen

Kissan makes ‘tiffin time’ easy

In India, preparing ‘tiffin time’ is considered one of the toughest daily chores. Given the busy routines of most parents, it isn’t easy deciding what to make every day for children that’s exciting, tasty, quick and healthy.

To help them, our Kissan brand offers a free website with more than 200 delicious and nutritious lunch box recipes – enough for 200 school days! The recipes feature vegetables, fruits and other healthy ingredients, designed in a way that’s appealing for children. 70% of the recipes meet our Unilever Healthy Recipe Framework criteria, and focus on using local, seasonal ingredients.

The recipes were pulled together by celebrity chefs, food bloggers and parents our #KissanTiffinTimetable on the India Food Network, which has over 300,000 subscribers. All the recipes can be shared on social media, and so far the campaign has attracted more than 20 million views and reached over 52 million people. It has also won 27 awards, including the India Food Forum Award for the ‘most admired marketing campaign’.

Eating out healthily

Eating out of home is on the rise. We want to make it easier for people to eat healthily out of the home. 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 (UFS) – our dedicated foodservice business – is helping 2 million chefs and cooks, in 74 countries, to prepare more nutritious meals for their guests.

We also provide online recipe inspiration for chefs, and an estimated 20% of UFS recipes in countries such as South Africa and Germany, are now plant-based and vegetarian.

In June 2018, the Chefs’ Manifesto was launched, an initiative led by the SDG 2 Advocacy Hub, a global coalition working together to tackle hunger. The aim of the Manifesto is to support chefs from 37 countries in influencing more nutritious diets and in doing so take action on Zero Hunger (SDG 2). UFS has also been contributing to the development and cascade of the Manifesto.

To help people make nutritious, sustainable menu choices, we’re also working with the World Resources Institute’s Better Buying Lab to research, test and scale new strategies. As part of Greendish Food Value & Chain, we’re looking at menu-engineering to encourage people to eat more vegetables. Our studies show that 61% of guests say meals are better if more attention is paid to vegetables. So we’re working with chefs to overcome any barriers to serving more vegetables.


Elderly people in care home

Unilever Food Solutions helps chefs in hospitals and care homes

The elderly population is increasing, so for more and more people, eating out of the home can mean having meals at care homes or in hospitals. One-third of people admitted to these facilities are at risk of malnutrition and their nutritional needs differ from younger adults.

To make it easier for this age group to eat nutritiously, we’re developing tasty products and recipes to meet their needs. Our elderly care services include producing specially-designed products, with adjusted texture to make chewing and swallowing easier for example. We organise demonstrations of new products and provide training and tools to care homes and hospitals. And to spread awareness further, we work with geriatric associations and nutritional experts in ten countries.

In the UK, for example, in 2018 we partnered with 15 charities and care homes across the country, creating hero programmes to improve the wellbeing of residents. This video summarises how we make a difference by providing tea stations, ‘takeaways’, dessert taste testing events and activity days. Residents told us that our roast dinners with family and friends are not only delicious, but even brought back special childhood memories.

How do you drink yours?

Adequate hydration is essential to achieving good nutrition habits, and many people drink tea to unwind from a busy day. As the largest global tea company, we have a long-standing research programme investigating the consumer benefits of drinking tea.

Unilever research has been cited in both the European Society of Cardiology guidelines for the management of high blood pressure and the Dutch food-based dietary guidelines.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) also recently gave a positive scientific opinion on a health claim application we filed with them in 2017, on tea and attention. The European Commission will now review the EFSA opinion. If the application is granted, Unilever will have exclusive rights to use this health claim for a period of five years.

As an alternative to water, health authorities recommend drinking unsweetened tea. The challenge is that most people don’t drink their tea unsweetened.

We run various campaigns to convince people to drink unsweetened leaf tea. In the Gulf states, for example, we ran Lipton Green Tea’s ‘Lighter with Lipton’ challenge. This encouraged people to replace sugary drinks with Lipton, exercise and eat more fruit and vegetables for 30 days, to feel light and active. The campaign enjoyed six weeks of exclusive coverage on Green Apple, the biggest health and lifestyle show in the region. It also received support from major influencers, like Joelle Mardinian, who has 6.9 million followers. In total, the campaign reached 12 million people via digital channels.

A similar campaign was developed in Chile. We ran a 21-day Lipton Challenge, encouraging consumers to adopt small changes towards a healthier lifestyle. A complete daily plan, from breakfast to dinner, was offered on the website. It was supported by tips on how to eat more fruits and vegetables, how to take small steps towards including more exercise in the daily routine, and the importance of healthy hydration that can be easily achieved by drinking unsweetened green tea during the day.

Behaviour change was key: the campaign invited consumers to switch their heavily sweetened, caloric beverages (already present in their daily habits) to tasty, unsweetened green tea with zero calorie, as a path to a healthier lifestyle.

To communicate with nutritionists on a wider scale, we participate in events such as ‘Dieticians Unite Day’ in Australia. Here, Lipton was the first to market still water infused with fruit, tea and herb extracts. We also spread our positive hydration messages in-stores, like with local US retailer, Hannaford.

We introduced the claim ‘just as hydrating as water’ on several of our Lipton black tea packs in the US. To raise awareness, we produced an educational booklet and organised retail activations, which were led by in-store nutritionists. And we include healthy hydration messages as part of our Agents of Change Make Meals that Do More initiative.

Empowering our employees

By helping our employees adopt healthier nutrition habits, we can make a direct difference to 155,000 people around the world. We’re taking action to make sure that they have access to employee health and well-being programmes, such as the support we provide for breastfeeding mothers. We want to help our employees to improve nutrition for themselves and their families.

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