Wednesday, April 14, 2021

UNILEVER sets bold new ‘future foods’ ambition

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PH food portfolio gears up to drive change

Unilever announced a new annual global sales target of €1 billion from plantbased meat and dairy alternatives, within the next five to seven years, and new commitments to raise nutrition standards and address food waste.

The growth will be driven by the rollout of The Vegetarian Butcher as well as increasing vegan alternatives from global brands including Knorr, Hellmann’s, Magnum and Wall’s.

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In the Philippines, Unilever’s food and refreshment brands Knorr, Lady’s Choice, Best Foods and Selecta have made great strides in sustainability and are gearing to accelerate its portfolio transformation aligned with the new commitments.

The target is part of Unilever’s ‘Future Foods’ ambition, launched globally with two key objectives: to help people transition towards healthier diets and to help reduce the environmental impact of the global food chain. 

Unilever has committed to:

      85% of Unilever’s global Foods portfolio will help consumers reduce their salt intake to no more than 5g per day, by 20221.

• Halve food waste in its direct global operations from factory to shelf by 2025 – five years earlier than previously committed, as part of the Champions 12.3 coalition target.

• Double the number of products delivering positive nutrition globally by 2025 – defined as products containing impactful amounts of vegetables, fruits, proteins, or micronutrients like vitamins, zinc, iron and iodine.

• Continue lowering calorie, salt and sugar levels across products

      95% of Unilever’s packaged ice cream will not contain more than 22g of total sugar, and 250 Kcal per serving, by 2025. This is in addition to the company’s children’s ice creams, which have been capped at 110 kcal since 2014.

Hanneke Faber, President of Unilever’s Foods & Refreshment Division, says, “As one of the world’s largest food companies, we have a critical role to play in helping to transform the global food system. It’s not up to us to decide for people what they want to eat, but it is up to us to make healthier and plantbased options accessible to all. These are bold, stretching targets which demonstrate our commitment to being a force for good.

“It is widely recognised that the current global food system is inequitable and inefficient. One billion people around the world are hungry2 while two billion are obese or overweight3. One third of all food produced is thrown away4.  And animal agriculture is the second largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions after fossil fuels and a leading cause of deforestation, water and air pollution and biodiversity loss5.”

Leading food sustainability in the Philippines

Many of the crops relevant to its savoury, dressings, and ice cream categories in the Philippines are sourced locally and sustainably. These include tamarind, gherkins, taro, mango, coconut, among others.

 “We share with our suppliers and growers a joint vision on sustainability, to help minimize negative impacts on the environment, protect biodiversity and contribute to better rural livelihoods. This is how we drive change in our food systems and how we reshape the Filipino food culture to one that is more delicious, more nutritious, and more sustainable,” shared Kristine Go, Foods & Beverages Marketing Director, Unilever Philippines.

Knorr, Unilever Philippines’ biggest food brand nearing its 50th year in the country, has led the way with its two-decade Lutong Nanay Nutri Program and Knorr Landmark Sampalok farms

Knorr, its biggest food brand nearing its 50th year in the Philippines, has led the way with its twodecade Lutong Nanay Nutri Program and Knorr Landmark Sampalok farms.

Experts on plantbased diets and the impact of food waste

The 2019 EATLancet report showed that a diet rich in plantbased foods and with less animalsourced foods offer both health and environmental benefits6.

Jessica Fanzo, Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor of Global Food & Agricultural Policy and Ethics, Johns Hopkins University and a coauthor of the EATLancet report said: “The average person’s daily diet will need to change drastically during the next three decades to make sure everyone is fed without depleting the planet. By improving food production and food environments, transforming eating habits, and reducing food waste, we can begin to solve these problems. Unilever’s commitments are integral to helping people make changes to their diet, with healthier and more sustainable food products that are accessible and affordable for their consumers.”

Liz Goodwin, Senior Fellow and Director, Food Loss And Waste at World Resources Institute said: “Food loss and waste have massive impacts in terms of cost to the global economy, the environment and society. We know that food loss and waste contributes about 8% of global greenhouse emissions7 as well as wasting the land and water used in production of food. We need as many companies as possible to step up and prioritise the issue of food loss and waste and take action to reduce it. It is great to see Unilever showing this sort of leadership. Given the size and reach of Unilever, their commitment to halve food loss and waste across their global operations will undoubtedly lead others to take action as well.”

Unilever Global F&R

Unilever has been expanding its plant-based meat and dairy alternatives business for several years. (Photo from www .unilever.com)

Unilever has been expanding its plantbased meat and dairy alternatives business for several years. After acquiring The Vegetarian Butcher in 2018, Unilever has expanded the plantbased meat brand into more than 30 countries and was last year chosen as the supplier of Burger King’s PlantBased Whopper and PlantBased Nuggets across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

In Ice Cream, its first vegan Magnum was awarded Best Vegan Ice Cream in the UK by PETA in 2019. Both Hellmann’s Vegan Mayo and Ben & Jerry’s Coconutterly Caramel’d Dairyfree were named as one of Nielsen’s top 25 Breakthrough Innovations in Europe for 2020. 

In 2019, Unilever made an €85million investment in ‘The Hive’, a foods innovation centre at Wageningen University in the Netherlands to support research into plantbased ingredients and meat alternatives, efficient crops, sustainable food packaging and nutritious food. 

The Foods & Refreshment Division’s targets also support Unilever’s global commitments to achieve a deforestationfree supply chain by 2023; invest €1 billion in a new Climate & Nature Fund; and achieve netzero emissions for all products by 2039. The company has also pledged to ensure 100% of its plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.

1 WHO recommends that adults consume less than 5 g (just under a teaspoon) of salt per day.

2 Oxfam study: a billion people hungry  https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/billion-hungry-people

3 More than two billion people overweight or obese: https://eatforum.org/learn-and-discover/more-than-two-billion-people-overweight-or-obese/

4 One third of world’s food is wasted: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13364178

5 Animal agriculture’s impact on climate change: https://climatenexus.org/climate-issues/food/animal-agricultures-impact-on-climate-change

6 Food Planet Health – https://eatforum.org/content/uploads/2019/01/EAT-Lancet_Commission_Summary_Report.pdf

7 FAO Report: http://www.fao.org/3/a-bb144e.pdf

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