More plant-based options
We’re adding more plant-based products to our portfolio.
People’s eating habits are changing
When choosing what foods and drinks to buy, most people consider taste as the first priority. But more and more consumers also want to know that the products they’re buying are nutritious and healthy, have limited environmental impact, and that people have been treated well when making the products.
The scientific basis for future diets that are healthy for both people and the planet was published in 2019 by the EAT-Lancet Commission. This marked a significant step forward in building global consensus and collaborative action around food system transformation. The report showed that increased consumption of plant-based diets could reduce emissions by up to 80%. And it concluded that dietary changes from current diets to more plant-based meals are likely to substantially benefit human health.
Different studies have shown that plant-based diets can prevent diseases by improving glycaemic control, reducing risk of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and being overweight. There are also strong indications from science that plant-based diets are generally associated with a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, overall cancer incidence and/or mortality.
Helping millions of people access more plant-based ingredients
We believe in nutritious diets that include more variety, more seasonal foods, fruit and vegetables, legumes, wholegrains and healthy oils, less meat and more plant-based options. Our portfolio of brands is well placed to help millions of people with this. For example, each year 170 billion cups of tea, the world’s most popular plant-based beverage, are enjoyed from brands like Lipton, Brooke Bond, PG Tips, Pukka and Pure Leaf.
We were pleased that in 2019, FAIRR ranked Unilever the best-scoring company among food manufacturers and retailers for moving towards sustainable protein. We also won several awards for our plant-based innovations, such as PETA’s Best Vegan Mayo 2019 Award for Hellmann’s Vegan Mayonnaise, and Healthy Living awards for ‘best vegan product’ and ‘best meat replacement’ for Knorr Vegan Mealmakers.
We want to increase our portfolio of plant-based products, especially for people who want to eat less meat or no animal-based products at all. Our recent acquisition, The Vegetarian Butcher, will help to expand our portfolio.
The Vegetarian Butcher supplies Burger King’s ‘Rebel Whopper’
In 2019, The Vegetarian Butcher announced its first deal with a major restaurant chain. We now supply 100% plant-based patties for Burger King’s ‘Rebel Whopper’ to over 2,500 stores in 25 countries in EMEA.
The patty smells, cooks and tastes like beef, but it’s 100% plant-based. The main ingredients are sustainable soy, wheat, vegetable oil, herbs and onion. It’s been developed specifically with meat lovers in mind – people who want to leave meat out of their diet for a couple of days a week, but don’t want to compromise on flavour.
The Rebel Whopper will be priced similarly to its beef counterpart in Europe – a departure from the norm in North America, where plant-based burgers typically cost $1–$1.50 more than meat patties.
Jaap Korteweg, founder of The Vegetarian Butcher and ninth-generation farmer, said: “When I started The Vegetarian Butcher nine years ago, my goal was to be the biggest butcher in the world. To create products for meat lovers, with the ambition of providing the same taste and experience, but plant-based. Working with Burger King on the Rebel Whopper has been amazing and we can’t wait for all Burger King guests to enjoy it.”
Our foodservice business, Unilever Food Solutions (UFS), also offers plant-based products to respond to consumer demand. Knorr Professional, for example, is our range of 100% natural, complete and balanced mixes of rehydratable grains and vegetables to easily create exciting and nutritious plant-based dishes.
UFS helps chefs around the world to offer more plant-based options in their menus by providing recipe inspiration, workshops and training. We’ve contributed to the Chefs’ Manifesto, written by chefs for chefs, to champion recipes for a more sustainable and delicious future. And in 2020, UFS launched a new global platform called Pushing Plants Forward, supporting chefs with products and solutions for the plant-based dishes they want to cook, and ingredients they want to use.
A more diverse palette of plant-based ingredients makes cooking more exciting, food more nutritious and agricultural practices more sustainable. And chefs can really do what they love – create new and exciting dishes.Ria van der Maas, Nutritionist for Unilever Food Solutions, our foodservice business
Knorr & WWF identify 50 foods of the future
Reinventing Food for Humanity is our new Knorr purpose. By 2025, Knorr will help 500 million people to eat less meat, improving soil health, water and biodiversity on hundreds of thousands of hectares of land.
In 2019, we began fulfilling our purpose by partnering with environmental charity WWF-UK to co-release the Future 50 Foods report. This highlights foods that are nutrient-rich and have a low environmental impact, so they’re good for us and the planet. The Future 50 Foods selection is varied and will be surprising for some, including ingredients like cacti and black salsify (a parsnip-like root vegetable).
We’re busy creating new products that feature the Future 50 ingredients, such as Knorr Vega Chili Con Carne and Knorr Vega Balls in the Netherlands and the Nordics. In Poland, we launched a line of Grain Bowls Full of Flavour (Kasza Pełna Smaku). Knorr’s Ancient Grain Soup, on sale in Turkey, contains Future 50 Foods including bulgur, lentils and buckwheat, and is an easy way to prepare a healthy meal with grains.
Knorr Naturally Delicious Sweet Potato Lentil Curry and Lentil Meatballs, introduced in Germany as part of the #heuteistmeinveggietag (#todayismyveggieday) campaign, have won two Healthy Living awards for best vegan product and best meat replacement from the German Food Forum magazine.
Knorr chefs have created a variety of exciting, easy-to-make recipes based on the Future 50 Foods, which we’re promoting online and in-store. And we’re developing innovative partnerships to accelerate consumption of the nutritious foods on the list. For example, we’re collaborating closely with international food services company Sodexo.
Together, our professional chefs and nutritionists have developed 40 recipes using ingredients from the report, which Sodexo is now rolling out across its kitchens.
This work contributes to the following UN Sustainable Development Goals
In addition, we want to make it easier for people to find their dietary preferences on the shelf. We’ve added the European Vegetarian Union’s logo to over 1,300 of our products.
Delicious, dairy-free ice cream
A few years ago, Ben & Jerry's fans were asking for non-dairy versions of their favourite ice creams. We listened, and Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy range now includes 11 flavours in North America and Europe, including the new Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. And it's proving popular – vegan/non-dairy is among the fastest-growing subcategories of ice cream globally.
In response to this increasing demand, we’ve continued expanding our ice cream portfolio with tasty non-dairy and vegan offerings. Our Breyers Non-Dairy Vanilla Peanut Butter ice cream in the US, for example, has a satisfying, creamy taste but is 100% vegan. It’s made with almond milk and Rainforest Alliance certified sustainable vanilla.
We’ve introduced Cornetto mini vegan and gluten-free ice creams, and Solero organic and vegan ice cream lollies in lemon and peach flavours. And our Magnum Vegan options are now widely available across the globe.
Our award-winning Magnum Vegan
Our Magnum Vegan ice creams contain all of the indulgence of a Magnum but without the dairy ingredients – and they’re still below 250 kcal and 20 g of sugar per piece.
Vegan Classic and Vegan Almond contain high quality, real Belgian chocolate and coconut oil, as well as a velvety vanilla-flavoured pea protein.
The ice creams were rolled out globally in 2019, and are certified as suitable for vegans by the European Vegetarian Union and Vegan Action.
Magnum Vegan Almond received the 2019 ‘Best Vegan Product’ award from the Dutch Vegan Society, and ‘Best Vegan Ice Cream’ from PETA in the UK. And in a blind tasting test by two experienced chefs, it placed first out of 26 newcomer (and mostly dairy) ice creams.
"We’re pleased that we’ve been able to create products that hold true to Magnum’s chocolatey, creamy experience without using any dairy, and believe our vegan, dairy-free Magnums will have a wide appeal,” explains Julie Merrick, Global R&D Director, Magnum.