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Positive nutrition

We believe everyone, everywhere deserves access to diverse, nutritious food that does not cost the earth.

A bold ambition to transform the food system

Conflicting and contradictory health issues – like malnutrition and obesity on the one hand, and social and environmental issues like food poverty and food waste on the other – are part of a complex, interdependent system. And they are all issues that need to be addressed.

Through the goals in our Unilever Compass strategy, we are continuing our reformulation strategy, cutting salt, sugar and calories: by the end of 2022, we’re aiming for 70% of our foods to meet these World Health Organization-aligned standards.

We’ve launched our Future Foods ambitions to help people eat healthier diets and reduce the environmental impact of the global food chain. Many organisations support our approach, which makes us believe we’re on the right track.

The Global Access to Nutrition Index (ATNI), for instance, has considered that Unilever is taking a comprehensive approach to tackling all forms of malnutrition and that our Future Foods commitments aim to support a global food systems transformation. The ATNI India spotlight Index (ATNI) in 2020 has recognised HUL and ranked the organisation in 1st position for the nutrition policies and governance. Our strategy has also been recognised by investor network FAIRR, who ranked us first for our engagement on promoting diverse, sustainable proteins in 2021. The World Benchmark Alliance’s 2021 Food and Agriculture Benchmark placed us first out of the world’s 350 most influential food companies for ourenvironmental, social and nutritional impact.

Future foods

We are helping millions of people to eat better, by offering affordable and healthier foods and beverages, and encouraging them to cook with healthier recipes. By offering foods that carry positive nutrition like fruits, vegetables and essential fatty acids we are helping people to eat more diverse and nutritious diets – food that’s better for people. We are providing micronutrients through fortification of our products, and increasing our ambition in reducing salt, sugar and calories.

Our Compass goals

We launched our Future Foods commitments at the end of 2020. They are part of our Compass strategy:

  • Double the number of products sold that deliver positive nutrition* by 2025
  • 70% of our portfolio to meet WHO-aligned nutritional standards by 2022
  • 95% of packaged ice cream to contain no more than 22g total sugar per serving by 2025
  • 95% of packaged ice cream to contain no more than 250 kcal per serving by 2025
  • 85% of our Foods portfolio to help consumers reduce their salt intake to no more than 5g per day by 2022

*Defined as products containing impactful amounts of vegetables, fruits, proteins, fibre, unsaturated fatty acids or micronutrients such as vitamins, zinc, iron and iodine.

We see health and nutrition as the foundations of our business, while many consumers are increasingly seeing them as the ‘new basics’ for a healthier life. Our R & D centers across the globe conduct research and develop products that address these important topics.

Our nutrition philosophy and approach

The fundamentals that underpin our nutrition strategy and how we make decisions and work with others.

Everyone deserves access to good food

We believe in offering healthier options that are affordable and accessible to all, and we are continuously improving the nutritional profile of our foods and refreshment products.

It is important to us that everything we do is underpinned by leading-edge science. Our nutrition standards follow international dietary guidelines and apply to our whole portfolio – covering every country, brand and product.

We also believe it’s our duty to have clear principles to ensure we are responsible in our marketing, labelling and communications with consumers.

And, as one of the largest food manufacturers, we are taking action to help shape a food system that is fair for everyone and the planet. We’re driving this through our Future Foods Positive Nutrition Action Plan. But we know we cannot transform the food system alone, so we advocate and partner with others to drive change.

We aspire to be a force for good in food

We know that to have a healthy business, we need a healthy society. We are making sure that our brands are part of the solution. Hellmann’s, for instance, aims to help people ‘make taste, not waste’ by tackling food waste. Knorr is aiming at ‘restaurant like food at home.’ Horlicks aims to ‘nourish a billion lives’, while Kwality Wall’s stands for bringing happiness to the whole community, with ice cream that's good for people and the planet.

Through our brands, our vision is to be a world-class force for good in food – but what does this mean in practice?

It means helping people to make healthier choices, while still offering foods and refreshments that they can enjoy without compromising on taste. We can’t tell people what to eat, but we can provide more low calorie and high nutrition content products to make it easier for people to have healthy diets.

Our nutrition improvement journey began over 20 years ago when we published our Nutrition Policy, followed by our Nutrition Enhancement Programme. We reviewed all our products worldwide to assess their salt, sugar and saturated fat content and defined actions for improvements. This led to us setting time-bound targets in our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, and by the end of 2020, globally, we had doubled the size of our portfolio of products that meet our Highest Nutritional Standards (HNS).

Healthy options for a healthy diet

We are ensuring our products are made responsibly – with a focus on taste and the planet, and of course good nutrition underpins our approach.

Future Foods is our plan to help people transition towards healthier diets and reduce the environmental impact of the food chain.

Through Future Foods, we are continuously improving our entire portfolio. We do this based on science and delivering it through our brands with purpose as well as partnerships.

Our innovation approach

Science-based strategy and innovation

Our Future Foods strategy and our approach to innovation are based on the latest scientific understanding of the role of nutrition for good health and wellbeing.

We use this science to develop great-tasting products that meet the nutritional needs of our consumers and that deliver their health and wellbeing needs. We also use science to underpin all our nutrition commitments, claims and communications, and to help ensure that external guidelines, regulations and policies are based on the best science.

Take our Nutrition Standards as an example

Science and dietary guidance underpin our Nutrition Standards and we have two standards which guide our portfolio improvement. The first is our Highest Nutritional Standards (HNS), which are intended to limit nutrients of concern in our products. The second is our Positive Nutrition Standards (PNS) which aim to increase dietary recommended nutrients and ingredients that consumers should eat more of, for their and the planet’s health.

We have based both standards on WHO dietary guidelines and road-tested them with guidance from external experts in nutrient profiling to ensure they’re robust.

Our standards tackle three key elements.

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Nutrients of concern

Positive ingredients

Positive nutrients

Nutrients that should be limited in people’s diets to promote health

Ingredients that should be eaten more regularly for the health of people and the planet as they help to diversify diets

Nutrients that should be eaten more regularly for the health of people and the planet as they help to diversify diets

  • Calories
  • Saturated and trans fats
  • Sugar
  • Sodium
  • Fruits and vegetables (plant-based ingredients)
  • Wholegrains
  • Dairy (only for kids’ products)
  • Protein
  • Fibre
  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Micronutrients

We’ve explained more about the science underpinning our nutrition standards in our new booklet.

Science also underpins our claims, marketing and labelling

We are careful to ensure we can fully support any claims we make. We first introduced our Unilever Nutrition and Health Claims Framework in 2005, providing guidance for nutrition and health claims on our products. Today, this framework ensures a solid scientific and legal basis for our claims, ensuring they are credible, compelling, differentiating and comply with regulatory requirements.

Our Claims Substantiation Committee provides governance, ensuring that the nutrition and health claims we make are underpinned by sound science. We use our Highest Nutritional Standards as guidance for nutrition and health claims and, if local regulations or voluntary industry standards are stricter than our Unilever Standards for nutrients of concern, we follow the stricter standard for any claims. Our global position on claims explains more.

We are also committed to promoting healthy diets by marketing and advertising our nutritious products responsibly. We’re guided by our Principles on Responsible Food & Beverage Marketing to Children, Advertising and Marketing details our approach.

Our nutrition labelling policy covers our entire Foods & Refreshment portfolio, which means we apply it in all countries (even if those countries have no labelling regulations). It stipulates that we must provide key information on pack and adhere to regulations. 100% of our sales volume provides nutritional information in HUL, in line with our policy. We also take exceptional care to include accurate allergen information that complies with local regulations.

We support the implementation of front-of-pack labels.

Our view on front-of-pack nutrition labels

Strong governance = high standards

To make sure we maintain our high standards, and that everything we do is based on leading-edge scientific evidence, it is essential that we have a strong system of governance in place.

Strong governance structures and clear lines of accountability ensure we deliver our Future Foods commitments. When we consider acquiring new brands, such as Horlicks for example, we look at the fit of the portfolio against our nutrition standards.

We also draw on insights from external experts to challenge our thinking. For example, we asked external experts for their opinions on the next iteration of our new Highest Nutritional Standards which we plan to launch when our current HNS commitment expires at the end of 2022. We continue to set product-specific standards, taking into account the role of the product, and we’re pleased that these were well received as they incentivise further reformulation.

All our standards, positions, policies and commitments are applicable globally – for every brand, every category and every region, unless a local regulation is stricter. Our nutrition standards, positions, policies, commitments, claims framework and marketing are all scrutinised and authorised by our senior leadership via our governance groups.

We are working in partnership

To make a difference to the multifaceted problems the food system faces – not least changing people’s eating habits – we need to work together with governments, health authorities, academia, retailers, civil society, consumer pressure groups and the media.

This means working in partnership with others, and advocating for improvements to be made, backed by science.

We are encouraging others to join us

We work with others to create a positive external environment within which we can grow responsibly and deliver our ambitions. So that it gives us the freedom to operate, to help shape the future, and to be proactive in sharing our nutrition story and inspiring others in our industry to join us.

Healthy habits, nutritious diets

Making better food choices

Whether at home or in a professional environment, we are empowering people to cook simple, healthy meals with varied ingredients that are suitable for different lifestyles and budgets. We also believe we should be promoting wider change, so we are looking at the bigger picture too and working with others on how to make our diets more sustainable.

Inspiration often starts with a recipe

One way to encourage home cooking is through our on-pack and online recipe suggestions. Our Healthy Recipe Framework makes sure these are in line with our Highest Nutritional Standards and based on expert recommendations.

We update a bank of more than 100,000 delicious recipe ideas each year, ranging from main course and side dishes to Lipton’s green tea recipes. All our recipes aim to inspire creative, tasty, and nutritious cooking, and often include cooking tips.

Good hydration is also essential for healthy living

Our approach to healthy habits is not limited to food. Through our tea business, we have long understood how important hydration is to good health.

In India, we are raising awareness of the link between drinking tea and maintaining a healthy amount of body fat, as well as the importance of exercise.

A focus on pricing

We offer products across a range of price options. We also use in-store activation tools like discounts, promotions and coupons to make our products more accessible, especially during high consumption seasons like festivals. Horlicks and Boost Rs 2 sachet in India make nutrition accessible to all.

Positive nutrition and fortification

Nature’s kitchen

The nutritious ingredients in many of our products provide the micronutrients, protein or fibre that people need as part of a balanced diet. We try to pack in as many fruits and vegetables as we can, as well as healthy oils. Vegetables like tomatoes, leeks, cabbage and onions are hero ingredients in many Knorr products.

The benefits of tea

Tea is the second most consumed beverage worldwide, next only to water. Scientists agree, tea is one of the healthiest hydration fluids in the world, basis research on health benefits of tea. Being world’s most popular drink, we sell 78 billion cups of tea every year. Our brands, Lipton and Brooke Bond are made from tea leaves.

We know that tea uniquely contains both theanine and caffeine and is a rich source of flavonoids which are linked to health benefits like a healthy heart.

Brooke Bond offers high quality and carefully blended tea that makes a delicious cup of phytonutrient rich beverage.

Brooke Bond Red Label Natural care amplifies the benefits of tea by bringing together the wisdom of Ayurveda and the inherent goodness of tea. Our Red Label Natural Care tea has the perfect mix of five Ayurvedic ingredients - Tulsi, Ashwagandha, Mulethi, Ginger & Cardamom. With its clinically proven immunity enhancing benefit, Red Label Natural Care tea has become a trusted product delivering taste and contributing to wellbeing.

Prabhat is our sustainable community development initiative

Lipton offers a range of high-quality green tea. Green tea is generally consumed without milk and sugar making it a zero calorie, healthy beverage. Apart from the zero-calorie benefit, green tea is also consumed for its fat metabolising properties that is attributed to catechin, a flavonoid, of which green tea is a richest source. Lipton has been communicating this goodness of tea backed by science through various avenues.

In line with Lipton’s purpose of ‘Awakening Indians to integrate connected wellbeing into their everyday lives to make them fitter’, Lipton Green Tea is encouraging consumers to take small steps to stay fit by being physically active. The television commercial, the pack and tea tags serve as reminders of actions one can integrate into their daily routine.

Lipton After Lunch Green Tea, is a soothing blend of green tea with real, power-packed ingredients - ginger, tulsi and rock salt which are traditionally known to improve metabolism and aid in digestion.

Fortification: a strategic priority

Every single day, we sell thousands of servings of fortified products, including seasonings, soups, squash, and jam.

These servings include at least 15% of the recommended daily amount for nutrients, in line with regulations. We offer fortified foods at an affordable price, develop products using good ingredients like vegetables, fruits, dairy and vegetable oils to support more diverse diets, and promote nutritious cooking.

Five critical micronutrients for better health

There are five key micronutrients for better health – these are iron, iodine, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin D. We provide a range of fortified products to help people access these micronutrients. We also run programmes to inspire people to cook using our fortified products, to help them achieve better health.

Reducing salt, sugar and calories

We are cutting salt, sugar and calories from our products but keeping their great taste.

Small improvements can bring a big health impact

In 2021, we achieved 63% against our end-2022 target of 70% of our portfolio meeting our HNS, which are in line with WHO guidelines.

By the end of our USLP in 2020, achieving our targets meant we removed 37 million tonnes of salt from our foods globally –. And we have removed the equivalent of around 170 billion sugar cubes globally from our iced tea drinks. We also took out over 15,000 tonnes of sugar from our ice creams. And we are not slowing down. In 2020, as part of our Future Foods commitments, we set ourselves new goals to lower calorie, salt and sugar levels even further across all our products.

More taste, less salt

The WHO recommends a daily intake of no more than 5 g of salt (that’s just under a teaspoon). But around the world, people eat on average 9–12 g a day, roughly twice the recommended amount.

We support the WHO’s recommendation and have clearly set outour salt reduction position.

A refreshing sweet treat, with less sugar

By the end of 2021, globally, 94% of our packaged ice creams did not exceed 250 kcals per serving. In India, 100% of our packaged ice creams are < 250 kcal/ serve. (A serving refers to a pre-packed, single-serve ice cream product meant to be consumed in one go. It also refers to 100 ml when ice cream is sold in larger packaging such as tubs)

In 2021, we introduced few new Kwality Wall’s ice creams in India, offering creamy kulfi with a traditional nutty flavour – the majestic Shahi Kulfi with a hint of cardamom while the Desi Twist comes with a rosy swirl. These options are not only delicious and refreshing but were also designed to meet our calorie commitment.

Additionally, at the end of 2021, globally, 89% of our packaged ice creams contained no more than 22g total sugar per serving. In India, 100% of our packaged ice creams meet this commitment.

In addition, 100% of our kids’ ice creams are HNS compliant. Whenever our Responsibly made for kidslabel is displayed, people can be assured that our ice cream is not only responsibly developed, but also responsibly communicated and responsibly sold. Take Magical dust designed for kids for example, that is loved by kids for its great taste, exciting colours, and magical experience has no more than 110 kilocalories per serving. It is our mission to offer permissible treats and empower parents and caregivers to make better choices that also bring happiness, joy and excitement to kids.

In HUL, as part of the 'Future Foods' initiative, we are committed to reducing nutrients of concern across the F&R portfolio through reformulation of existing products, innovations with lower nutrients of concern, and portion size control. We engage in research and follow scientific developments so that they can be applied as new sugar reduction technologies as these become available. We also work with governments, NGOs and all food chain stakeholders to find the best solutions that positively impact public health.

In India, we have been successful in advocating and introducing a new regulatory change under the existing Jam standard, a standard for low sugar jam allowing a 20% reduction in sugar levels. An example of advocacy based on collaboration with the industry partners while considering technological limitations and bringing about regulatory changes which enable healthier products in the market that empower consumers to make healthier choices.

We're tackling 'portion distortion'

Helping people understand what an appropriate portion size looks like is crucial to maintaining a healthy diet. We know that portions are getting bigger, and as a result, people are eating more. 'Portion distortion' is, unfortunately, becoming the norm. Our Highest Nutritional Standards (HNS) have thresholds set for energy per serve basis, limiting the portion sizes for each product type.

Through the goals in our Unilever Compass strategy, we are focusing on reducing salt, sugar and calories in our food and beverages products, and by the end of 2022, we're aiming for 70% of our foods and beverages to meet these World Health Organization-aligned standards. Additionally, to continue to maintain our compliance with our commitment that by 2025, 95% of our packaged ice cream and Frozen Desserts will contain no more than <250 kcal and <22g of total sugar per serving, we will need to ensure that we limit portion sizes in our innovations. Further, we are raising nutritional standards across our Foods portfolio through our new Future Foods commitments, which are part of our Unilever Compass goals for positive nutrition. In addition to limiting the negative nutrients, our positive nutrition goal is to double the number of products sold that deliver positive nutrition by 2025.

Globally, Unilever is a sponsor of the Portion Balance Coalition, which is focused on increasing understanding of the role of portions in day-to-day lives. We are collaborating with industry, policymakers, public health groups, and academic researchers to co-create consumer awareness messaging on balancing portions as part of a healthy lifestyle. The coalition is responding to the increasing number of food-insecure households with a culturally relevant health education programme called Eat for You: Let Portions Be Your Guide.

Within HUL, we are working on gradually reducing the portion sizes of our Ice Creams and Frozen Desserts. Research backs up our approach, showing that one way to promote healthier eating behaviours is to offer smaller portions of foods to decrease total calorie intake while still providing pleasure.

The sweet truth

The WHO advises limiting free sugar (meaning any added sugar, as well as natural sugars in honey, syrups and fruit juices) to below 10% of total energy intake.

We support the WHO’s position. In 2010, we extended our earlier sugar reductions by setting out to remove 25% of the sugar in our ready-to-drink teas. By our target date of 2020, we had achieved a reduction of 23% globally and 29% in India.

By 2025, 80% of our global Beverages portfolio will contain no more than 5 g per 100 ml of total sugar.

We are doing this through a combination of using naturally sweet ingredients like fruit, low energy sweeteners to replace sugar fully or partially, as well as offering great-tasting products with less sugar and varying levels of sweetness.

Different levels of sweet tooth

We are working towards giving people a choice in the level of sweetness in beverage products.

In 2021, for instance, we introduced new Horlicks Diabetes Plus, our first-ever product in the Foods for Special Dietary Uses category. The drink can help people.

Our trans fats story

In May 2019, we made a global commitment to the World Health Organization that by 2023, industrially produced Trans Fatty Acids (iTFA) would not exceed 2 g per 100 g of total fat or oil in any of our foods.

We are also continuing to cut saturated fat in our products.

Empowering through education

Improving the nutrition & hygiene of smallholder farmers

The workplace nutrition program is a partnership between Unilever and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). Together, we are working through commodity supply chains to improve the diets and hygiene practices of workers, smallholder farmers and their families.

The workplace nutrition program began with a pilot covering 2,700 smallholder farmers, workers and their families in Tamil Nadu, India in 2015. Until 2019, we have covered 46,000 tea workers, SHFs and farm workers and their families to improve their health and hygiene practices through handwashing. Over 2021–23, the programme will be rolled out in tea communities in Assam benefiting a further 168,000 workers and their families from 110 tea estates – 0.9 million people in total. The next step is to bring more suppliers on board to significantly extend its reach.

The nutrition work in tea estates in India has progressed in layers, bringing in innovations to improve the model implementation and impact with each phase.

In 2021, we have launched sectoral change phase of the nutrition program, which is even more ambitious and transformational, scaling up innovative approaches to encourage a sustained change in worker’s diet by improving access to nutritious foods and to create livelihoods in tea producing communities in Assam. The program has attracted funding from wide range of tea companies interested in supporting a truly sustainable tea sector.

The program seeks to enhance demand, access, consumption of safe and nutritious food by tea worker households in Assam. In addition, the program is focusing to increase knowledge on balanced diets and handwashing practices. The behaviour change campaign activities include street plays, cooking demonstration, home counselling, cooking competition and nutri-games.

Empowering communities with nutrition education

Aligning with the National Nutrition Mission, Prabhat’s ‘Poshan Saathi’ programme focuses on improving the health and nutritional status of women of reproductive age, pregnant and lactating women, and adolescent girls as well as children under the age of five years. In 2021, the programme was live in six locations, benefitting more than four lakh women and children.

As co-founders, HUL and the ‘Power of Nutrition’ have initiated a behaviour change programme for hygiene and nutrition using mobile technology to reach women in Gujarat. The partnership features a unique mix of a voice-based mobile service and an on-ground arm that delivers critical nutrition and hygiene information to mothers of children aged 0-5 years living in rural parts of India. The partnership is in alignment with the Government of India’s initiative, Poshan Abhiyan, to address undernutrition in the country.

Nutrition for all

Additionally, we improved accessibility to nutritious meals by providing mid-day-meals to school students and supplementary food to out-of-school children. Owing to the pandemic, schools remained closed for most days of the year. A contingent plan was developed, and dry ration was distributed to target beneficiaries. Over 1.85 lakh kits containing staples, pulses, cooking oil and spices were distributed to children including their families.

A new programme was launched to increase awareness on the importance of nutrition amongst cancer patients in convalescence. Monthly awareness workshops were conducted with mothers and caretakers of cancer patients, on nutrition and different foods that can be given to them to speed up their recovery. Additionally, nutrition kits
were provided to 800 cancer patients undergoing treatment to help them with good nutrition.

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