It is our responsibility to make healthier and more nutritious food options accessible to all.
Our nutrition strategy and targets are aligned to the ‘Positive Nutrition’ commitment of the Unilever Compass Strategy. We are conscious of the vital role that food plays in an individual’s well-being. Our food system should be giving everyone access to quality nutrition. It should be serving consumers, and producers, fairly and it should be cutting waste and promoting sustainable agriculture.
We want to lead the way. It’s not up to us to decide for people what they want to eat, but it is our responsibility to make healthier options accessible to all.
We are all responsible for bringing widespread change. From governments and farmers to producers and food businesses, we all have a critical role to play in making our food system sustainable.
Nutrition is central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Zero Hunger (SDG 2) and Health and Wellbeing (SDG 3), but also No Poverty (SDG 1), Gender Equality (SDG 5), and Climate Action (SDG 13).
Strategy and goals
Conflicting and contradictory health issues – like malnourishment and obesity on 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’re all issues that need to be addressed.
For the past decade, we’ve been improving our foods and beverages through our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. The plan concluded in 2020, when we achieved our ambition of doubling the proportion of products meeting our Highest Nutritional Standards (HNS). These are based on globally recognised dietary recommendations and 51%* of our foods and refreshment portfolio has attained these standards.
Through the USLP we made great strides in reducing the calories, sugar and salt in our products. We’re continuing this reformulation strategy: By 2022 we’re aiming for 70% of our foods to meet the WHO-aligned standards. Nutrient profiling is a core part of our approach and we’ve set out our principles and latest thinking on how it can help consumer choice.
*Independently assured by PwC.
We provide our consumers with simple and trustworthy information on nutrition. Nutrition labelling is a powerful tool to help consumers make informed choices about the foods that they buy. Today, governments and consumer organisations around the globe see nutrition labelling as instrumental in efforts to improve dietary habits, help counter growing obesity rates and prevent other dietary-related chronic diseases.
Working towards a harmonised labelling policy
Our nutrition labelling approach is comprehensive and robust, covering all our brands and markets, and the target we set is very stretching. We have put a global governance model in place and executed numerous extensive monitoring activities, checking nutrition labelling product by product. We will continue to drive our labelling commitment in a harmonised manner across our total foods and beverages portfolio.
Nutrient profiles to help define better products
Nutrient profiling is a method to determine the nutritional quality of foods. However, there are over 100 nutrient profiles used for different purposes and this leads to a debate on how best it is to define better products.
Unilever has been the first Company to apply a rigorous, peer-reviewed nutrient profiling methodology in marketing and advertising for product reformulation, nutrition labelling, and nutrition and health claims. Our Highest Nutrition Standards are used to drive our global nutrition reformulation targets. This is applicable for Hindustan Unilever Limited as well.
We’re tackling ‘portion distortion’
Whether they’re at home or eating out, helping people understand what’s in the food they eat is crucial to maintaining a healthy diet. And so is knowing what an appropriate portion size looks like. We know that portions are getting bigger and as a result, people are eating more. ‘Portion distortion’ is, unfortunately, becoming the norm.
We’ve made a commitment that by 2025, 95% of our packaged ice cream will contain no more than 250 kcal per serving. To achieve this, we will need to continue to reduce portion sizes.
We believe the underlying algorithm of front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition labelling schemes should be based on portions that people consume rather than a generic calculation per 100 g.
We’re also partners in the Portion Balance Coalition, which aims to change people’s understanding of portions. We’re collaborating with industry, policymakers and public health groups to offer and promote balanced portions to support a healthy lifestyle. The coalition is also aiming to reach the increasing number of food-insecure households with health education.
Our approach to health claims
In nutrition labelling, accurate health claims are essential in building consumer trust. That is why we have a global position for making nutrition and health claims on our foods and refreshments. The intention of our claims must be to provide people with product nutrition information to help them make informed, healthier choices. This information must be relevant, concise and apply to health claims made on the pack or through other marketing channels. In India, all nutrition and health claims are in line with the local regulatory requirements.
Read more about our Global Principles for Responsible Food & Drink Marketing.
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. Last year, it has reached 46,000 workers and smallholder farmers and their families. Over 2021–23, the programme is being rolled out in tea communities in Assam benefiting a further 100,000 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.
Women who participated in the pilot reported a 41% increase in the variety of foods consumed. Additionally, there was a 41% increase in the number of households that grew vegetables in their gardens. Our intervention has also helped enhance hygiene among farmers. We saw 78% of farmers begin washing their hands before lunch daily, compared to 51% who did not participate in the programme.
Empowering communities with nutrition education
Prabhat is HUL’s sustainable community development initiative that is linked to the Unilever Compass. It aims to create sustainable and inclusive communities in and around HUL sites through focused interventions on Economic Empowerment (skilling, entrepreneurship, and value chain development), Environmental Sustainability (water conservation, waste management and climate adaptation), Health (nutrition, hygiene, sanitation and WASH) and Education (basic infrastructure).
The health and wellbeing of our rural communities is of utmost importance to us. With the aim of enabling nutritional advocacy, in 2019, Prabhat launched the School Contact Programme (SCP) on nutrition, wherein HUL employees volunteered as ‘Nutrition Ambassadors’ explaining the importance of healthy eating and healthy living to school children. The initiative helps communities ‘grow healthy together.’ The SCP programme has reached out to 1,50,000+ school children so far. HUL shopfloor employees also volunteered as 'Swacchata Doots' teaching simple practices like hand washing and sanitation; touching the lives of more than 40 lakh people in the rural hinterland.
Prabhat has also aligned with the National Nutrition Mission through its Poshan Saathi programme, focused on the health of women, especially pregnant and lactating women (PLW). Using a life cycle approach, it focuses on building a cadre of women who are buddying rural women in their nutrition journey. A network of Poshan Saathis propagate behaviour change on nutrition to adolescent girls, general women, mothers of children under five, and PLW. The Poshan Saathis have reached out to over 84,000 rural women, empowering them with better decision-making abilities on health, as a result of health literacy dissemination and demystifying nutritional myths.
Through the Horlicks Swasthya Abhiyan community programme, we’ve raised awareness of good nutrition in over 25,000 villages across India. And in 2021, our ambition is to reach 30,000 villages.
Overall, Prabhat has reached out to nearly six million people across 19 states and 2 union territories since its inception in 2013. During COVID-19, more than 1.3 million people across 230 locations benefitted from relief kits distribution, including Lifebuoy soaps, grocery kits and food packets.
Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) has been ranked joint #1 in the India Access to Nutrition Spotlight Index 2020 amongst India’s 16 largest F&B companies for its approach to nutrition. Hindustan Unilever and Nestlé India share the rank with an overall score of 6.9. This recognition is a strong endorsement of the steps taken by HUL with respect to its nutrition governance, practices, and disclosures. Since the 2016 India Access to Nutrition Spotlight Index, HUL has improved its ranking (from #2) and its overall Corporate Profile score from 6.7 to 6.9.
In the Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI) report, HUL is lauded for its clear and well-structured nutrition strategy in India. Some of the best practices cited include – HUL’s active support for FSSAI’s Eat Right Initiative, USLP linked reformulation approach on reducing levels of salt, sugar and saturated fats in products, the Company’s pricing strategy to improve the affordability of products, its unique product distribution initiative (Project Shakti), along with the Company’s initiative to drive healthier diets and lifestyles for its employees.
Out of the seven assessment categories, HUL led the way in four categories - Governance, Accessibility, Lifestyle, and Nutrition Labelling.
1ATNI is an international not-for-profit organisation. It publishes independent and comprehensive analysis and commentary on food and beverage companies’ efforts to improve consumers’ access to nutritious foods and beverages, both globally and in Spotlight countries (such as India, South Africa, USA, Mexico). Read more about the initiative and the report .
Fortification for better health
Unilever continuously works to improve the taste and nutritional quality of its products using globally recognised dietary standards, which are also compliant with the applicable Indian regulations.
We’ve made fortification a strategic priority
By 2022, we aim to provide more than 200 billion servings globally, with at least one of the five key micronutrients – Vitamin A, D, iodine, iron and zinc. So far, 125 billion servings have been delivered. These servings include at least 15% of the recommended daily amount for nutrients, in line with regulations and are available at affordable prices. Read our latest position statement on fortification and nutritious cooking.
And to step up efforts to tackle malnutrition, we’re pushing for change across the food system. In 2020, we set ourselves even more ambitious fortification goals through our Future Foods commitments.
Unilever’s goal is to sell twice as many products that deliver positive nutrition by 2025.
Horlicks – an everyday essential for generations
As a leading brand in India, Horlicks caters to the nutritional needs of different consumers, from toddlers to children and adults. Horlicks range includes products such as Horlicks Classic Malt, Junior Horlicks and Horlicks Women’s Plus, to name a few. All these products contain key macronutrients and micronutrients.
Horlicks Women’s Plus is a nutritional beverage designed for women and aims to provide 100% of the Indian Council of Medical Research’s recommendation for daily calcium, vitamin D and K2 intake and supports bone health. Horlicks Mother’s Plus on the other hand is for pregnant and lactating women and contains 25 vital macronutrients and micronutrients. Horlicks Protein Plus, which is specifically for sedentary adults, contains a triple protein blend of whey, soy protein and casein, which are known to support muscle maintenance.
In the financial year 2020 - 2021, our initiatives addressed the nutritional needs of people adversely affected due to COVID-19, which included women, children, stranded migrant workers and their families, people from vulnerable and low economic groups, and families of children enrolled in schools with the Mid-Day-Meal (MDM) program.
About 93,000 meals kits containing staples, pulses, cooking oil and spices were distributed to the families. These nutrition initiatives were implemented in association with external NGO partners in key locations, including manufacturing units.
To support the healthcare workers in their fight against COVID-19 and back their nutritional needs, 1.5 lakh packs of Horlicks were provided across several hospitals in 12 key cities. Additionally, nutritional products were also provided to communities around the manufacturing units, families of kids with cancer, Mumbai police, families of migrant workers, tea garden workers, and others, across 11 states.
Additionally, we delivered kits containing food rations for one month to families of over 40,000+ students to ensure access to well-balanced meals. Our factory teams also donated 2 weeks’ worth of food rations to the families of close to 1.2 lakh migrant workers’ in 200+ locations.
More nutritious food and drinks
Unilever’s Future Foods Commitments involves doubling the number of products sold that deliver positive nutrition by 2025. We define positive nutrition as having a meaningful amount of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, omega 3, protein, fibre, unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins or minerals.
People are paying more attention to the ingredients in their food and drinks and so we try to pack in as many micronutrients, protein or fibre in our products as we can.
The benefits of tea
We sell 170 billion cups of tea every year, across the globe. Our brands, Lipton and Brooke Bond are made from tea leaves. Brooke Bond’s Red Label Natural Care immunity-boosting tea focuses on both taste and goodness.
Kissan Peanut Butter
Peanuts are an excellent source of protein and are a great plant-based protein source for both children and adults. Our Kissan Peanut Butter is made from the choicest hand-picked peanuts from farms in Gujarat, which are roasted to perfection and processed into delicious, creamy goodness. It also meets our Highest Nutritional Standards and is free of preservatives, artificial colours or flavours.
Fun fact, just a serving of our peanut butter (30g) has as much protein as a glass of cow’s milk (200 ml).
Targets and performance
This section captures our targets and progress against Unilever’s USLP commitments and targets to improve health and wellbeing.
Highest nutritional standards
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. This will help hundreds and millions of people to achieve a healthier diet.
In India, 51% of our total food and refreshment portfolio met the highest nutrition standards.
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 not more than 5g salt per day. In 2013, we clarified our commitment. By 2020, 75% of our food’s portfolio will meet salt levels to enable intakes of 5g per day.
In India, 48% of the foods portfolio (by volume) was compliant to the 5g of salt per day target.
Remove trans fat
By 2012, we will have removed from all our products any trans fats originating from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
By 2012, we had met our target to eliminate trans-fat originating from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil from our products, worldwide.
In 2020, both globally as well as in India, 100% of our foods and refreshments portfolio was virtually free from trans fats originating from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. We undertake regular reviews of our products to ensure that we continue to be compliant.
Prior to 2010 we had already reduced sugar levels in our ready-to-drink teas. By 2020, we set out to 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 products.
In India we reduced sugar by 29% in our powdered iced tea and milk tea premix portfolio (against a 2010 baseline).
Reduce calories – children’s ice cream
By 2014, 100% of our children’s ice creams will contain 110 kilocalories or fewer per portion. 60% will meet this level by 2012.
Globally, 100% of our children’s ice creams, and in India, 100% of our children’s frozen desserts & edible ice portfolio contained 110 kilocalories or fewer per portion by 2014. In 2020, we continued to remain at 100% in compliance.
Reduce calories – packaged ice cream
Globally, we’re ensuring that by 2025, 95% of our packaged ice cream products will contain no more than 22 g of total sugar, and 95% will contain no more than 250 kcal per serving.
In India, 99% of our packaged ice cream and frozen dessert products met the target.
Provide healthy eating information
Our aim is to provide clear, simple labelling on our products to help people make informed choices for a nutritionally balanced diet. We are committed to include energy per portion on the front of the pack and eight key nutrients on the back of the pack. We are also committed to declare the percentage of Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) for five nutrients on the back of pack. Our targets respect local or regional industry agreements as well as the law in each market.
In 2020, globally, 99.7% of our portfolio carried the full nutritional information on pack and in India, 100% of our food and refreshment portfolio had full nutritional labelling on pack in compliance with the local legislation.
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.
2 Our sugar reduction target applies to all ready-to-drink teas, powdered iced tea and milk tea products, liquid concentrates, retail and foodservice and any new formats that are sweetened for the total time period of 2010 to 2020.
3 A portion is defined as: a pre-packed single-serve ice cream/ frozen dessert product meant to be consumed in one go, or 100 ml when sold in packaging aimed at multi-consumption moments such as tubs.
Role of brands in enhancing health & wellbeing
Knorr brings 100+ wholesome, heart-warming recipes
Knorr is our biggest food brand and uses vegetables as core ingredients, providing vitamins and minerals. We’ve found that adding positive nutrition to everyday products like our Knorr stocks and soups can help make healthier habits easier.
The Knorr website hosts more than 100 new recipes alongside interesting product and recipe visuals. The recipes lead our consumers into the world of Knorr, the endless possibilities that exist within the range of products and how the assortment of products can fit into enhancing diets and promoting a healthier lifestyle.
Knorr has always enabled consumers to make tasty and nutritious meals at home. A recent survey in India highlighted that the average intake of fruits and vegetables in India for an adult between 18-35 years is 3.3 servings per day, as compared to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation of 5 servings per day. In an endeavour to enable consumers to cook more nutritious dishes and have a healthier diet, the Knorr website now features ‘nutritious recipes.’
It is noteworthy to mention that up to 75% of the Knorr online recipes (India) meet the top tier of Unilever’s Healthy Recipe Framework, whilst being practical and delicious. All the recipes on the website feature a minimum of 30% of recommended ingredients, which means that they include a combination of ingredients that are best suited for a healthy diet, such as wholegrains, legumes, fresh vegetables and vegetable-based oils. Consumers can re-discover flavour by cooking nutritious new recipes.
We’ve produced a colourful Knorr Future 50 Foods cookbook with over 1,000 delicious, plant-based recipes created by expert chefs and approved by nutritionists in 90 countries. To encourage people to make better food choices and cook at home during the lockdown, we created Knorr@Home to help households cope – and find joy in cooking.
Kissan Peanut Butter
Peanuts are an excellent source of protein and this makes it a great choice as a plant-based protein for both, kids and adults. Kissan Peanut Butter in India is made from peanuts that are handpicked from the farms of Gujarat and perfectly roasted to give a creamy texture. Kissan Peanut Butter meets our Highest Nutritional Standards and contains no added artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. In fact, one serving of Kissan Peanut Butter (30 g) has as much protein as one glass (200 ml) of cow’s milk.
Promoting a healthy lifestyle with Lipton Green Tea
Lifestyle diseases in India are increasing at an alarming rate and although this is a public health concern, the common man is alerted only when the disease strikes him or his loved ones. Thankfully, the awareness on health is increasing and consumers are receptive to education in health and wellness.
Being a progressive brand, Lipton took up the responsibility to create awareness about healthy food and lifestyle habits, where it can make a difference. It was observed that in current times where lifestyles have changed, it is increasingly necessary to educate consumers about the impact of body fat on health, and also drive home the message that being thin or having a healthy BMI does not necessarily mean that the person has a healthy body.
Home-to-home community activity is being carried out in 15 cities across India. The ambassadors measure the body fat percentage of consumers with a bio-electrical impedance instrument, followed by diet and lifestyle messages. Since the inception of this campaign in 2017, Lipton team has reached 8.5 million consumers (9% of total Urban households in India) and educated them on the beneficial effects of a balanced diet, active lifestyles, and consumption of green tea.
Building this awareness is of prime importance in a region where incidences of lifestyle diseases are increasing. This activity is also in line with the WHO action plans to reduce incidences of non-communicable diseases by improving physical activity or reducing sedentary lifestyles.
Hellman’s: On the other side of food
From Richard Hellmann’s deli in New York to tables all around the world, Hellmann’s has truly become the World’s No. 1 Mayonnaise Brand. It is 100% vegetarian and a rich source of Omega 3. Hellmann’s is always well-balanced and full of flavour to make good food, great. Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise is made from a simple combination of inherently good ingredients like soyabean oil which is fortified with Vitamin A & D, natural vinegar, lemon juice, spices and condiments, etc. It meets Unilever’s Highest Nutrition standards.
For a century, the inherent goodness of Horlicks has struck a balance between nutrition in the form of macronutrients and micronutrients and the minimum amount of added sugar to make milk more palatable to children. Two servings of Horlicks (One serving = 27g), drunk with milk, gives children nearly 25% of daily carbohydrates requirement, 60% of protein* and over 70% daily requirement of critical micronutrients.
Two robust clinical trials in the last 20 years have proved that children who drank Horlicks had better growth and immunity outcomes respectively as opposed to those who did not.
The brand Horlicks has several other variants catering to the needs of our population at every life stage.
*%RDA based on Indian Council of Medical Research for children aged 7-9 years.
Boost is one of India’s leading malt-based / cereal-based beverages fortified with 17 essential vitamins and minerals. An independent study conducted in 2009 confirmed that the number of shuttles completed by Boost consuming children (aged 7-10.5 years) increased by 25% compared to an 8% increase in children who consumed non-fortified, chocolate beverage, in a 20m shuttle test measuring whole-body endurance. Boost is a nourishing beverage to be consumed as a part of your daily diet and exercise plan.