Improving nutrition

Better products, better diets, better lives.

A man spreading Flora on toast

More than 1 billion people enjoy our foods and drinks every day. We know that people want and expect superior quality products that are healthy and tasty. We enrich many foods with essential vitamins and minerals, and have set bold targets to reduce salt, saturated fat, sugar and calories across our brands. We also know that people want foods that are sustainably sourced and made with ingredients they recognise and trust.

We are very conscious of the important role that food has in people’s well-being, and that non-communicable diseases are a high public health priority. We are a strong supporter of the UN Global Goal of Zero Hunger and are playing an important role in addressing over- and undernutrition. We do this by offering nutritious foods that are appealing, and through communication that is responsible, engaging and meaningful.

Our strategy

Our nutrition strategy focuses on better products, better diets and better lives.

A long heritage of quality products

We have a long heritage in contributing positively to people’s diets. Our brands like Knorr, Lipton and Blue Band have been offering good nutrition with great-tasting products for over 100 years.

Our foods and drinks are sold in about 100 countries. With this scale comes responsibility. That’s why we have a nutrition policy | (PDF) 123kb together with ambitious nutrition targets embedded into our business and R&D strategy.

nutrition pop up image

Click on the picture to access an interactive summary of our nutrition activities in 2015

Our approach

We make sure our programme on nutrition responds to people’s concerns and is aligned with guidance from public health authorities, such as the WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases 2013–20. We focus on addressing heart health, obesity and undernutrition, as these are the areas where our brands can have the biggest impact on health and well-being with great-tasting products and compelling communication.

Our nutrition strategy encompasses:

  • Better products – Our Becel, Rama and Blue Band spreads contain essential fats and our Lipton teas are refreshingly hydrating. We continually improve nutritional quality. We are piloting iron-fortified Knorr bouillon cubes in Nigeria matched with a nutritious cooking programme. Worldwide, our Max, Paddle Pop and Popsicle children’s ice creams meet strict nutrition standards.
  • Better diets – Through our marketing communication, we encourage more nutritious baking and cooking with our Becel liquid margarines and Hellmann’s dressings. We promote healthy recipes on pack and online, for example with our Knorr meal solutions, and are very active in training chefs in restaurants and catering operations.
  • Better lives – Our campaigns encourage people to adopt more healthy diets and lifestyles, for instance Becel/Flora ProActiv’s ‘It Takes a Village’.

Engaging with others

We engage with a wide range of influencers, including celebrity chefs, food bloggers and public health authorities. By connecting with people in compelling ways, our brands play an important role in delivering healthy diet and lifestyle messages.

The scientific understanding of how food impacts health is constantly evolving. We collaborate with prominent research partners such as the Top Institute Food and Nutrition, in the Netherlands and the Harvard School of Public Health in the US. We also research motivators for behaviour change, for instance with the International Union of Nutrition Sciences1. We actively contribute to the latest thinking on nutrition security and sustainable diets, and share results through scientific conferences and peer-reviewed publications. In all our dealings on scientific research we apply the highest standards of integrity.

We play a leading role in industry-wide, self-regulating initiatives that encourage better products, diets and lives. We participate in trade associations such as the International Food & Beverage Alliance, Consumer Goods Forum, FoodDrinkEurope, Better Business Bureau in North America and Food Industry Asia. We also support broad coalitions and partnerships such as the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) and the World Food Programme.

Through all these activities, we encourage the sharing of best practice, transparency, meaningful monitoring, and driving real change in people’s diets.

1 3 Barriers for progress in salt reduction in the general population. An international study. R.S. Newson, I. Elmadfa, Gy. Biroc, Y. Cheng, V. Prakash, P. Rust, M. Barna, R. Lion, G.W. Meijer, N. Neufingerl, I. Szabolcs, R. van Zweden, Y. Yang, G.I.J. Feunekes Appetite 2013, vol 71: 22-31.

Our commitment

The majority of our products meet or are better than benchmarks based on national nutritional recommendations. Our commitment goes further: by 2020, we will double the proportion of our portfolio that meets the highest nutritional standards | (PDF) 356kb based on globally recognised dietary guidelines. This will help hundreds of millions of people to achieve a healthier diet.

Progress to date

In 2015, 34% of our portfolio by volume1 met the highest nutritional standards. This is based on an assessment of every single product in our portfolio in all countries and across our total retail and foodservice business.

The salt levels in 60% of our food products (by volume) meet benchmarks that are aligned with the WHO-advice of no more than 5g salt per day, while 91% of our packaged ice creams globally now contain no more than 250 kcals per portion. Since 2010, we have reduced sugar in our sweetened tea beverages by 11%.

Future challenges

The Global Nutrition Report 2015 shows that progress is not being made fast enough to address over- and undernutrition. Collective action is needed from a wide range of stakeholders to influence people to change their eating habits.

We have a firmly established programme of driving down salt, saturated fat, sugar and calories in many products, and will ensure that they continue to meet people’s taste and quality expectations – as healthy food that is not chosen by consumers has no impact.

We are stepping up our long-standing work on ‘positive nutrition’ with our micronutrient fortification programme being piloted by Knorr. This will ensure a wider reach, including to lower income groups.

We will also be focusing more on digital promotion of healthy recipes for all brands, based on consistent standards emphasising key nutrients as well as healthy ingredients such as fruit, vegetables and wholegrain.

While we recognise that much more work needs to be done, and are determined to play our part, we are also pleased to see the recognition given to our nutrition work in the 2016 Global Access to Nutrition Index.

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Downloads

Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, Mobilising Collective Action: Summary of progress 2015

Annual Report and Accounts 2015

Unilever Global Nutrition Commitments

This infographic summarises our global nutrition commitments and shows examples from different countries of better products, and communications that help encourage people to have better diets and lifestyles.

STRONG PROGRESS ON NUTRITION COMMITMENTS

Nutrition is one of the nine pillars in the unilever sustainable living plan

  • Target

    Global Status 2015

  • 60% by 2020

    higher nutrition graphic

    Highest Nutritional Standards

    34% of our global foods and refreshments, by volume, meet highest nutritional standards

  • 75% by 2020

    reduce salt graphic

    Reduce Salt

    60% of our foods, by volume, meet salt levels to enable intakes of 5g/day

  • 90% by 2017

    reduce safa graphic

    Reduce SAFA

    82% soft vegetable oil spreads contain ≤ 33% saturated fat and ≥ 67% unsaturated fat

  • 100% by 2012

    remove trans fats graphic

    Remove Trans Fats

    Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil removed from 100% products fulfilling 2012 target

  • 25% by 2020

    reduce sugar graphic

    Reduce Sugar

    11% sugar reduction across all sweetened tea beverages

  • 100% by 2014

    reduce calories graphic

    Reduce Calories

    100% children’s ice creams ≤ 110 kcal/portion fulfilling 2014 target

  • 80% by 2015

    reduce calories in ice cream graphic

    Reduce Calories

    91% packaged ice cream products ≤ 250 kcal/portion

  • 100% by 2015

    labeling graphic

    Labelling

    100% global portfolio full nutrition labelling on pack

Explore our commitment areas

Explore our commitment areas

< Go back to all commitment areas
  • BETTER PRODUCTS

  • BETTER DIETS

  • BETTER LIVES

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Better baking with Becel

Americas

We encourage people to use better quality fats when baking, cooking and spreading through recipes shared on websites, TV and social media.

The ‘Better-for-You’ cooking and baking programme in Canada, for example, encourages people to replace butter with Becel in their favourite baking recipes to reduce saturated fat and trans fat levels.

Healthy eating for the elderly

Europe

Our Unikit guidelines are designed to help chefs and caterers working in care homes, to develop recipes that meet the specific nutritional needs of their elderly clients.

Healthy eating for children

Global

We encourage children to adopt healthy eating habits through a variety of programmes:

  • "A Perfect Fit" in Israel encourages children in kindergartens and primary schools to eat breakfast. This programme was so effective that the Ministries of Health and Education in Israel now run this as a National programme.
  • Since 1998 in Thailand, we have been providing elementary school children with delicious recipe inspirations using fortified Knorr Jok, an instant rice porridge, together with locally available, affordable and nutritious ingredients.
  • We run campaigns in Kenya, together with the Ministries of Education, to increase the awareness of the nutritional benefits of the good fats contained in Blue Band margarine. We do this by training school teachers who then share their knowledge with their pupils.
  • During National Breakfast Week in Indonesia, we offered cooking demonstrations and nourishing sandwiches made with Blue Band.

All our programmes are run in accordance with our Global Policy on Responsible Marketing of Foods and Beverages.

Nutritious school lunches

Global

  • In the UK, Unilever Food Solutions (UFS) encouraged more than 3000 schools to donate to World Food Programme during World Food Week: raising awareness of school children in the UK and providing nutritious lunches for school children in Indonesia.
  • Our UFS School Meal Programme provides best practice kitchen and menu management for school canteen cooks in the UK, Germany, France, Poland and Colombia, resulting in nutritionally improved meals in many school canteens.
  • In 2014, Knorr started supporting World Food Programme’s ‘Home Grown School Meals Programme’ in Kenya. This helps smallholder farmers develop better practices for growing and harvesting crops which are then turned into nutritious school meals.
Partnering with retail dietitians

Americas

In 2015, in the USA and Canada we engaged with 300 retail dietitians from popular stores to talk about healthy hydration at mealtimes, responsible treats for kids and good quality fats in the diet. We organised in-store demos, product sampling, monthly wellness e-newsletters, health screenings and weekly flyers.

Promoting healthy treats

Global

Healthy Kids

We share educational materials to show that children can enjoy our children’s ice creams as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. We are one of the first global companies to ensure that all our children’s ice creams, everywhere, are nutritionally responsible.

  • In Spain, we hosted a press conference, to highlight how our children's ice creams can be recognised by our ‘Responsibly made for kids’ logo.
  • In Italy, we showcased our Treats Meter at the popular family exhibition EXPO, with a fun, interactive team game for kids’.
  • In Thailand, the FDA approved the use of 'Specially for kids' logo on our Paddle Pop ice cream range in schools.
Reducing dietary salt intake

Global

We encourage people to reduce their salt intake by helping them understand which foods contribute to salt intake in their diet. An example is our online Salt Calculator, launched in partnership with local nutrition societies.

http://www.saltcalculator.co.uk/
Seductive nutrition

Global

Our Seductive Nutrition programme provides guidance to restaurants to make healthy eating attractive to more people, through: appealing food presentation, enticing menu descriptions, use of healthier cooking techniques and adapted portion sizes. In the US alone, 15 billion calories have been removed from dishes on menus between 2012 and 2015.

Heart health

It Takes A Village Campaign

Global

Our Becel/Flora ProActiv "It Takes A Village" programme invites people to take a three-week challenge to reduce their cholesterol by taking action through simple diet and lifestyle changes. So far, 1,100 people completed the challenge and 85% of the participants succeeded in lowering their cholesterol.

Cholesterol Awareness Activities

Global

Through our Becel/Flora/ProActiv we help raise awareness about the importance of cholesterol and looking after heart health by:

  • providing guidance (online and through healthcare professionals)
  • distributing cholesterol-lowering starter kits
  • offering digital tools, such as the 21 day challenge app
  • organising cholesterol awareness events
Engaging with healthcare professionals

Americas

The Becel Centre for Heart Health (BCHH) in Canada has engaged with healthcare professionals and offered a variety of programmes that promote heart healthy diets and lifestyles since 1978. For example:

  • accredited medical training programmes for general practitioners (1,700 participated in 2015)
  • educational and cooking programmes for dietitians (more than 1,000 have taken part)
  • online tools and resources for health councellors

Knorr fights Malnutrition

Taking green foodsteps

Africa

Our ‘Green Food Steps’ programme helps to make nutritious cooking affordable, simple and desirable for teenage girls and their mothers.

This programme encourages cooking nutritious dishes by adding leafy green vegetables and Knorr iron-fortified bouillion cubes.

Vitamin A deficiency

Asia Pacific

Knorr runs a campaign with partners* to help people in Vietnam understand the importance of micronutrients, especially vitamin A, in their diet. This campaign shows people how they can add extra vitamin A to their diet by using Knorr seasoning granule, fortified with vitamin A.

*National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Ministry of Health (National Strategies for Food Fortification project which is sponsored by GAIN), supported by the Women's Association.

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Taking action

We are delivering even better products so that we can have a bigger, positive impact on heart health, obesity and undernutrition. We follow a responsible labelling and marketing policy.

Delivering better products

Farmer checking tomato crop

We follow the highest nutritional standards, and continually improve taste and nutritional content.

Contributing to heart health

Lady participating in a cooking class with Flora ProActiv

Our spreads and dressings are rich in unsaturated fats, and we are reducing salt and saturated fats in many products. We also raise awareness of the importance of heart health.

Addressing undernutrition

Boys eating food outside

We provide a range of products containing important micronutrients to help address undernutrition. We also seek to promote nutritious cooking, by working in partnership with others.

Nutrition labelling

Consumer reviewing the labelling on Knorr packaging

We provide people with simple and trustworthy nutrition information.

Responsible marketing

Father and son looking at a tablet screen together

We apply strict responsible marketing policies, especially for children.

Targets & performance

Our ambitious nutrition targets can help hundreds of millions of people to enjoy great food and better diets.

Improving Nutrition

Our Commitment

We will continually work to improve the taste and nutritional quality of all our products. The majority of our products meet, or are better than, benchmarks based on national nutritional recommendations. Our commitment goes further: by 2020, we will double the proportion of our portfolio that meets the highest nutritional standards, based on globally recognised dietary guidelines. This will help hundreds of millions of people to achieve a healthier diet.

Our Performance

In 2015 34% of our portfolio by volume met the highest nutritional standards, based on globally recognised dietary guidelines.

Our Perspective

Meeting highest nutritional standards is a significant commitment. It involves addressing technical issues to make great-tasting products that meet our targets and that consumers will love. Nutritionally reformulated foods that are not chosen by consumers have no impact. And it means facilitating behaviour change amongst consumers – in which a wide range of stakeholders must play their part.

The majority of our portfolio already meets benchmarks based on national nutritional recommendations. We are on track to meet our 2020 commitment, which means that 60% of our foods and beverages portfolio by volume and across all countries will meet highest nutrition standards. To date 34% meet these standards1. This equates to well over half of the servings that we sell.

A great deal of reformulation is underway in all our product categories and we have made significant progress on reducing salt, sugar and saturated fat. We continually share our progress and approach with nutrition and public health experts so that they can also talk about the benefits of our products with consumers.

Our approach has been endorsed externally: we have consistently achieved a very high score within the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI); and we also were ranked top performer in the 2016 Global Access to Nutrition Index (ATNI), an independent rating of the nutrition programmes of the world’s largest food and beverage manufacturers.

We are working hard to deliver these improvements for the billion people who enjoy our food and beverages every day. See a summary of our performance against our global nutrition targets in our top countries in 2015 | (PDF) 1.2MB.

1 To measure our progress in nutrition, we use a reporting period that runs from 1 October to 30 September. 2015 data assured by PwC covered the period 1 October 2014 to 30 September 2015. See our Highest Nutritional Standards | (PDF) 356kb.

Independently assured by PwC.

  • Achieved: 3
  • On-plan: 4
  • Off-plan: 0
  • %of target achieved: 3

Our targets

Please see Independent Assurance for more details of our assurance programme across the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.

Reduce Salt Levels

Our first milestone was to reduce salt levels to 6g per day by the end of 2010. This required reductions of up to 25%. In 2010, we stated that our ambition was to reduce salt by a further 15-20% on average to meet the target of 5g salt per day. In 2013 we clarified our commitment.

  • By 2020, 75% of our Foods portfolio will meet salt levels to enable intakes of 5g per day.

60% of our Foods portfolio was compliant with the 5g target in 2015.

Our Perspective

We are on track towards our 2020 target.

Making further progress will involve continuing to follow the salt reduction plans that we have agreed across our consumer and Food Solutions professional catering business. It will also require all relevant stakeholders – for example governments, health authorities and healthcare professionals - to address the triggers and barriers that people experience in adopting healthier habits, given that current population salt intakes significantly exceed the recommended levels.

Reducing salt

Reduce Saturated fat

We are committed to improving the fat composition of our products by reducing saturated fat as much as possible and increasing levels of essential fats.

  • By 2012 our leading spreads will contain less than 33% saturated fat as a proportion of total fat.
  • A daily portion will provide at least 15% of the essential fatty acids recommended by international dietary guidelines.

We want to improve further the fat quality of all the soft vegetable oil spreads that we sell in tubs. In 2013 we extended our commitment.

  • By 2017, 90% of our complete global portfolio of soft vegetable oil spreads1 will contain no more than 33% fat as saturated fat and at least 67% as good unsaturated fat.

In tropical areas, without chilled distribution, the maximum saturated fat content will be set at 38%, as a slightly higher saturated fat level is required to maintain stability of the spreads.

92 92% of our leading spreads by volume contained less than 33% saturated fat as a proportion of total fat by 2012.

92 92% of our leading spreads by volume provided at least 15% of the essential fatty acids recommended by international guidelines by 2012.

82% of our global portfolio of soft vegetable oil spreads1 contained no more than 33% saturated fat and at least 67% good unsaturated fat in 2015.

Our Perspective

We have plans in place to ensure more of our soft vegetable oil spreads will meet the saturated fat target. While we can reduce saturated fat to make our products better, working in partnership with others continues to be important to strengthen our impact, for example we have found that promoting awareness of heart health is often more effective when messages are communicated in partnership with health authorities and healthcare professionals.

Providing good fats and oil

1 For all other products in our spreads portfolio, including our mélanges, we strive for the lowest saturated fat level possible without compromising on product performance and consumer and customer expectations.

Remove trans fat

By 2012, we will have removed from all our products any trans fats originating from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.

By 2012, 100% of our portfolio by volume did not contain trans fats originating from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.1

Our Perspective

By 2012, we had met our target to eliminate trans fat originating from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil from our products worldwide. We undertake regular reviews of our products to ensure we continue to be compliant. If products with trans fat originating from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil are found, they are reformulated.

1 We have published our definition and approach to removing trans fats from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. See: Melnikov S & Zevenbergen H. "Implementation of removing trans fatty acids originating from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils". New Food 2012; 5: 44-46. This approach focuses on main ingredients in our recipes and does not include traces of trans fats from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil that may be found in some flavours or emulsifiers.

Providing good fats and oil

Reduce sugar

Prior to 2010 we had already reduced sugar levels in our ready-to-drink teas. By 2020 we will remove an additional 25% sugar in ready-to-drink teas. In 2014 we extended this target to include our powdered ice tea and milk tea products1.

11% sugar reduction across all our sweetened tea-based beverages in 2015 since 2010.

Our Perspective

We are on track to meet our 2020 target. Despite reducing sugar levels of many existing products and launching new products with lower sugar content in many markets during 2015, sales of higher sugar varieties overall were higher than sales of lower sugar varieties which offset our sugar reduction progress compared to 2014.

We will continue to reduce sugar levels in our tea-based beverage portfolio, and to offer beverages and innovations with lower sugar content, while maintaining the taste that consumers enjoy.

Reducing sugar

1 Our sugar reduction target applies to all ready-to-drink teas, powdered ice tea milk tea products, liquid concentrates, retail and foodservice and any new formats that are sweetened for the total time period of 2010 to 2020.

Reduce calories

  • By 2014, 100% of our children’s ice creams will contain 110 kilocalories or fewer per portion. 60% will meet this level by 2012.
  • By 2015, 80% of our packaged ice cream products will not exceed 250 kilocalories per portion1.

New target 2014

100% of our children’s ice creams contained 110 kilocalories or fewer per portion in 2014, up from 86% in 20132.

91% of our packaged ice-cream by volume contains 250 kilocalories or less per portion in 2015.

Our Perspective

We have achieved our commitment that by 2014, our children’s ice creams would contain no more than 110 kilocalories. We are one of the first global companies to ensure that all our children’s ice creams, everywhere, are nutritionally responsible.

In 2015 we exceeded our global target that 80% of our packaged ice cream would contain no more than 250 calories. However, to demonstrate our responsible approach across our ice cream business, we are taking our commitment further - as in each market we aim to be at least 80% compliant too.

Reducing calories

1 A portion is defined as: a pre-packed single-serve ice cream product meant to be consumed in one go or 100 ml when sold in packaging aimed at multi-consumption moments such as tubs.

2 Our children’s ice cream target is assessed at the end of Q4 2014; the rest of our reporting assesses progress from Q4 2014 to Q3 2015.

Provide healthy eating information

Our aim is to provide clear, simple labelling on our products to help people make choices for a nutritionally-balanced diet. Our products in Europe and North America provide full nutritional information.

  • By 2015, this will be extended to cover all our products globally. We will include energy per portion on the front of pack plus eight key nutrients and % Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) for five nutrients on the back of pack.

Our targets will respect local or regional industry agreements as well as the law in each market.

86 In 2015, 86%1 of our portfolio had full nutrition labelling on pack in line with our commitment and over 95% of our portfolio had nutritional information on pack or online. We are working with relevant authorities to create a positive climate for labelling and to drive further change on our products.

Our Perspective

In 2015, over 95% of our products communicated nutritional information on pack or online (at least the Big 42), whilst 86% was fully in line with our commitment1. This represents really significant progress since 2014, when we ended the year with 63%.

Our target is stretching, covering all our brands and markets. In 2016, we will continue to drive our labelling commitment in a harmonised manner across our total food and beverages portfolio so that we reach our target in full. We have put in place a global governance model and extensive monitoring activities to check nutrition labelling product by product.

The biggest challenge we face is that in several countries, new labelling regulations or revisions to existing regulations are under development. In some other countries, there is no positive climate for front-of-pack Guideline Daily Amount labelling. However, we continue to build support for advanced and harmonised nutrition labelling across industry and regulatory authorities.

Nutrition labelling

1 These figures are by volume worldwide, Q2 2015 and include the products from our foodservice business, Unilever Food Solutions, as well as those parts of the Pepsi Lipton business where Unilever is responsible for marketing and distribution; it excludes products marketed through other joint ventures.
5% of this increase results from changes to the definition of relevant nutrition labelling as described in our updated global approach to nutrition labelling.

2 Big 4: nutritional information includes energy (kJ and kcal), protein (g), carbohydrate (g) and fat (g)

Key

  • Achieved
  • On-plan
  • Off-plan
  • Of target achieved
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