Improving nutrition

This work supports the following UN Sustainable Development Goals

  • Zero Hunger
  • Good Health and Wellbeing
  • Partnership For The Goals

Together with our partners

Partnerships maximise the impact of our efforts to improve nutrition.

SDGs image

Reforming the food system through partnerships

The last Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 17), set by the UN, is called ‘Partnerships for the Goals’. This seeks to strengthen global partnerships, and calls on national governments, the international community, civil society, the private sector and others, to all work together.

We are a strong believer that cross-sectorial and innovative multi-stakeholder partnerships will play a crucial role in achieving all the SDGs by 2030 – especially SDG 3 on Good Health and Well-being.

Unilever will continue working in partnership with other, like-minded organisations, to tailor programmes to country needs and to increase our impact. No single organisation can transform the food system alone. Only by working together, can we reach more people, helping millions to eat a nutritious and sustainable diet.

Carla Hilhorst, our Executive Vice President R&D, Foods & Refreshment

With a growing population and finite resources, we need to transform our global food system to deliver high-quality, nutritious diets from sustainable supply chains. As businesses produce, manufacture and sell most of the world’s food, we have a clear role to play in driving this transition through our supply chains, brands and partnerships. And by partnering with multiple stakeholders – whether that's other food companies, civil society, NGOs, academia or governments – we can use our nutrition expertise to help tackle these challenges.

Together with our partners infographic

We’re helping to develop science-based targets, technical solutions and policy at both a national and global level. For example, we’re members of the Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU). This brings together over 30 organisations from academia, government, civil society and business to unlock new models of sustainable nutrition that work for people and the planet.

Playing a leading role in industry-wide, self-regulating initiatives that encourage nutritious diets is also important to us. We’re active in the International Food & Beverage Alliance (IFBA), Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), FoodDrinkEurope (FDE), Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) of the FAO Committee for Food Security, Better Business Bureau (BBB) in North America and Food Industry Asia (FIA).

We’re also part of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), where our President of Foods & Refreshment is a board member of the Food and Nature work programme. And we’re active through projects such as FReSH.


FReSH: Plant Proteins

FReSH: An industry-wide partnership to transform the global food system

Responsible businesses in the food industry have joined together to accelerate food system transformation through Food Reform for Sustainability and Health (FReSH). As part of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, FReSH is looking to turn the conventional thinking around ‘farm-to-fork’ on its head, by taking a consumer-centric approach to food systems change.

Together, members are working to develop, implement and scale business solutions that are aligned with science-based targets. This means we start with the consumer, focusing on the dietary shifts that are needed. We then work back through the food system to determine what we need to grow, where and how. The goal of FReSH is to create nutritious, enjoyable food for all, produced responsibly with limited resources by 2030.

FReSH focuses on four transformational goal areas. Unilever co-leads the ‘Dietary Shifts’ workstream, actively participates in ‘Food Loss and Waste’ and also participates in ‘True Cost’. In 2019, FReSH published ‘Taking action on nutrition in agriculture supply chains’, and drafted a Protein Transformation Pathway white paper (PDF | 5MB). More recently at the beginning of 2020 a white paper on Plant Proteins (PDF | 16MB) was published to help accelerate food system transformation. FReSH is an active partner in the preparation of the Nutrition for Growth Summit 2020.

This work has established FReSH as a credible, forward-thinking food value chain project on food system transformation with key stakeholders. With the engagement of such a visionary and unique group of businesses, the food industry can help accelerate the transformation.

This work contributes to the UN Sustainable Development Goal

  • Partnership For The Goals)

Tackling undernutrition & championing dietary diversity with our partners

We believe strongly in a partnership approach to tackle nutrition issues locally. In Vietnam, for example, we’ve been working with the National Institute of Nutrition under the Ministry of Health, on national strategies for food fortification. Sponsored by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the project aims to support the production of food products with micronutrient supplements at reasonable prices for Vietnamese consumers. Our Knorr Meaty Granules, for example, are fortified with vitamin A, helping to tackle high levels of vitamin A deficiency in the country.

Working with partners increases our impact by ensuring programmes are locally relevant. For several years now, Knorr has been running Force for Good in Nigeria, to help combat iron deficiency (anaemia). With the Wellbeing Foundation Africa and Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Knorr has taught 320,000 teenage girls and mothers to cook nutritiously, with iron-fortified bouillon.

Ibadan University found that, following the programme, 41% of participants added green, leafy vegetables to everyday meals. A further 20 million people were reached online and via the media. Partnering on the programme in Kenya with Christian Aid, we reached a further 80,000 teenage girls and women.

Our Seeds of Prosperity programme – a joint initiative with GAIN and IDH (The Sustainable Trade Initiative) – promotes health and wellbeing, including good nutrition. Families in tea farming communities in India, Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi are empowered to create kitchen gardens to grow their own vegetables. So far, we’ve reached over 300,000 people, and the percentage of women meeting their minimum dietary diversity needs has increased across all the geographies covered. We’re now working with GAIN, the Ethical Tea Partnership and industry partners to create a global programme, promoting healthier diets in the tea sector.

We’ve renewed our membership of Scaling Up Nutrition’s (SUN) Business Network. We share expertise on behaviour change and reformulation, supporting SUN members in delivering improved nutrition in developing markets. We’ve also committed to the WHO REPLACE programme, sharing our technical knowledge on removing trans fatty acids.

Finally, in 2019, Knorr teamed up with environmental charity WWF-UK on the Future 50 Foods report, highlighting foods that are nutrient-rich and have a low environmental impact. We’re developing innovative partnerships to accelerate consumption of the nutritious foods on the list. For example, we’re closely collaborating with international food services company Sodexo. Together, our professional chefs and nutritionists have developed recipes for nearly every week of the year using ingredients from the report, which Sodexo is now rolling out across its kitchens.

Did you know?

Unilever Food Solutions contributed to UNICEF and GAIN’s Innocenti report ‘Food systems for children and adolescents’. This calls for action to make food for young people more nutritious.

Partnering for plant-forward food

In 2019, UFS entered into a partnership with the World Resources Institute’s Better Buying Lab to help more consumers choose sustainable foods. The aim is to shift diets to more plant-based choices by helping the food service industry offer guests tasty, plant-based dishes when they eat out of home.

UFS also participates in the PPS Food, Value and Impact consortium, led by Wageningen University & Research, Greendish and the Louis Bolk Institute. Together, we’ve been researching interventions that encourage people to consume more vegetables and less meat when they eat out. We recently published a study showing that guest satisfaction remains high, or even increases, when less meat and more vegetables are served in restaurants. In January 2020, UFS introduced its Pushing Plants Forward platform based on the findings of this study. The idea is to inspire chefs to integrate more plant-based ingredients in the dishes they serve.

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