Diet, health & the fight against obesity
More than half of Unilever's revenues come from food. In Ghana we produce a wide range of everyday household staples such as tea, margarine, and stock cubes. Our brands include Lipton, Blue Band and Royco.
Our foods mission
Our mission is to meet the everyday needs of people everywhere for tasty, healthy and nutritious food.
Our guiding principles
In an industry like Food, which is so fundamental to human health and thus of great interest to governments, policy makers, NGOs and consumers, it is important for manufacturers to have clear principles to guide their actions. These are Unilever's:
We recognise the political and societal concerns surrounding the growing levels of obesity. We acknowledge that the food industry has a role to play in tackling this important issue of public health. Unilever is committed to do this in a number of ways:
By providing clear information on our packs about the calorific content of our products.
By recommending portion sizes that take into account accepted dietary guidelines.
By further reducing the level of saturated and trans fats in our products, and developing communication to help people distinguish between 'good fats' (unsaturated) and 'bad fats' (trans and saturated).
By offering choice: e.g. Hellmann's Original (80% fat), Hellmann's Light (37% fat) and Hellmann's Extra Light (7% fat).
By using our brands to promote physical activity.
By making available diet and wellness programmes for our employees.
By marketing Slim·Fast, supported by clinical evidence of its weight loss efficacy.
Innovation & reformulation
We have for many years been committed to ensuring that our products are formulated in a way which delivers an optimal nutritional balance. To this end:
We are increasingly developing new products that have clear and positive health benefits. Recent innovations have included Knorr Vie, an easy and tasty way to boost fruit and vegetable intakes, and Becel / Flora.pro.activ shots which have been shown to reduce cholesterol.
We have developed a nutritional profiling model based on WHO and national guidelines, which established product benchmarks for the key nutrients of concern to public health specialists.
Our entire range of more than 22 000 products has now been assessed against these stringent criteria, and as a result of this assessment we have clear action plans for enhancing the nutritional profile of our portfolio.
We removed trans fats from our margarines in Europe as far back as 1996 and have continued to minimise the level of these in all our recipes (so far, more than 30 000 tonnes of trans fats have been removed from our products).
We have significantly reduced the level of salt across our entire range and will carry on doing so as long consumer taste preferences allow (so far, more than 3 000 tonnes of sodium have been removed from our products).
On fat and sugar we seek to provide choice to consumers. All our main brands offer variants: full fat and low fat, sweetened and unsweetened. Furthermore, as a result of our nutritional enhancement programme, we have so far been able to remove more than 17 000 tonnes of sugar from our products.
We believe that consumers should be given simple, clear information which allows them to make the right choices for themselves and their families. To this end we are committed:
To list on the back of all our packs full nutritional information and, where space permits, guideline daily amounts.
To roll out a simple Choices stamp for the front of our packs as our preferred way of communicating healthy product options. See the link to Choices international at the bottom of this page.
In countries where regulations or market norms demand them, to incorporate more comprehensive front of pack information in addition to the Choices stamp.
Marketing & advertising
We believe that marketing activities have great power to communicate healthy lifestyle messages to the public – Knorr advertising, for example, encourages the consumption of fresh vegetables through its 'Eat in Colour' campaign. We also acknowledge the concerns that people in many parts of the world have about advertising food (particularly to young children).
Unilever has developed its own Code of Marketing Principles for Food and Beverages to provide guidance to its managers. This code specifically prohibits any advertising to children under six years of age.
For children between six and 12 advertising is only permitted if the product meets strict nutritional criteria. This principle has also enabled us to take a leading role in agreeing cross-industry pledges to restrict advertising to children in regions such as the USA and Europe.
Under-nutrition in the developing world
In many parts of the world people suffer from a lack of food and from a shortage of certain micro-nutrients. Unilever is committed to do what it can to address this issue.
In Africa and India we sell products fortified with nutrients like iodine and Vitamin E.
We work in partnership with bodies like the World Food Programme, GAIN and UNICEF.
In India we are involved in a multi-stakeholder group called the Programme for Child Nutrition.
Unilever has led the food industry category of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the past eight years.
Every year Unilever spends €16 billion on raw materials and packaging which we buy from some 10 000 suppliers and then process in our factory network.
The extent and breadth of these activities mean that we have a large footprint on the environment. We are committed to minimise this and to manage our affairs in a sustainable fashion. We championed and pioneered sustainable fishing. We also have a well established sustainable agriculture programme which covers all our key crops such as tea, palm oil and tomatoes.
We have recently announced that all of the tea which we buy (12% of the global crop) will come from certified, sustainable sources.
Unilever's approach to health and nutrition is led by the Global President for Foods who sits on the company's Executive Committee and reports to the Group Chief Executive.
The programme is continually reviewed and critiqued by external advisers and academics.
It has measurable targets and these are published in the company's annual Sustainable Development report and are also available on the website.