From farm to fork, our vision is to be a world-class force for good in food: we believe we have a critical role to play in helping to transform the world’s food system.
Resources are stretched, yet food is still wasted.
So what exactly is the problem?
First, Earth’s resources are finite. A third of all land is already used to produce the food we eat, and agriculture is the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and the largest user of freshwater. Using more and more resources to grow food isn’t ecologically feasible.
Second, tonnes and tonnes of perfectly edible food never gets eaten. Either it’s lost to poor logistics and inadequate storage, or it’s thrown away by consumers.
And this is in a world where obesity is increasing sharply in all regions, yet nearly a billion people still go to bed hungry every night. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Covid-19 pandemic could add a further 100 million people to this distressing hunger toll.
Good food that doesn’t cost the earth
As one of the largest food companies in India, we know we have an influence on people’s diets. We continually ensure our food is a force for good. And by making sure it tastes good, consumers continue to choose our products. We are making sure that our brands are part of the solution. Horlicks aims to ‘nourish a billion lives’, Lipton stands for making India fitter, Kissan as a brand believes strongly in standing by farmers, while Kwality Wall’s stands for bringing happiness to the whole community, with desserts that's good for people and the planet.
What makes a responsible food company?
We’ve thought long and hard about what really makes a responsible food company. We believe food should be celebrated. And what excites us are the very real, very tangible benefits that food can bring, such as health, wellbeing, joy and friendship.
That’s why we’re inspiring people to cook delicious, nutritious meals from diverse ingredients that are good for them and the planet. We’re continuously improving the nutritional quality of our products and in 2020 we launched the Future Foods commitments.
Future Foods is our ambitious set of commitments to help people transition towards healthier diets and responsibly enjoy treats, while reducing the environmental impact of the food chain. It’s how we’ll grow our Nutrition and Ice Cream business and become a world-class force for good in food.
We’re 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 more plant-based foods, we’re helping people eat more diverse and nutritious diets that include fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and legumes. We’re providing micronutrients through fortification of our products, and increasing our ambition in reducing salt, saturated fat, sugar and calories. Our goals on positive nutrition are part of our Unilever-wide Compass strategy.
Looking beyond the farm gate
For a food system to be fully sustainable, it means looking beyond the farm gate as well – to the energy, water and other natural resources used when food is transported, stored, processed and consumed.
Agriculture, food, nutrition, health, livelihoods and the environment are all intimately interconnected. Focus on one without the others and the whole system collapses.
We can’t afford for that to happen. In fact, the cost of inaction to business is far greater than the cost of action.
How can we help to fix the food system?
We’re contributing through our Future Foods ambitions, and our commitments contribute to Objective 3 of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Action Plan for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases. We’re helping to reduce risk factors (like salt levels), as well as promote healthy diets.
We’re taking action on wider, related issues too, such as deforestation, soil health degradation and biodiversity loss, sustainable and regenerative sourcing, reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, combating food waste, living wages as well as hunger and malnutrition. In fact, the World Benchmarking Alliance put Unilever in first place in its ranking of 350 food companies’ environmental, social and nutritional impact.
We’re also advocating on a number of fronts to lead this change. For instance, we want to see reformulation targets in line with WHO guidelines for fats, sugar and salt, with incentives to create smaller portions to help people eat nutritious food and follow a healthy, balanced diet. We believe marketing to children under 16 is unacceptable. By January 2023, we ended this practice, and we’re calling for others to end this too. In addition, regulatory hurdles on the safe fortification of products with key micronutrients need to be removed.
Only by working together can we bring about change on the scale that’s needed. Our nutrition philosophy explains how we’re doing just that.