Improving nutrition

18% of our portfolio by volume met the criteria for highest nutritional standards in 2012.

Our commitment

We will continually work to improve the taste and nutritional quality of all our products. By 2020, we will double the proportion of our portfolio that meets the highest nutritional standards, based on globally recognized dietary guidelines. This will help hundreds of millions of people to achieve a healthier diet.

Our performance

In 2012 the majority of our products met, or were better than, benchmarks based on national nutritional recommendations. Our commitment goes further: 18% of our portfolio by volume met the highest nutritional standards, based on globally recognized dietary guidelines.

What matters most

For the Nutrition commitment we have three targets that are most material to us: Reduce salt levels, Reduce saturated fat and Increase essential fatty acids. (M) indicates our most material targets.

  • achieved: 6
  • on-plan: 8
  • off-plan: 1
  • %of target achieved: 2

Our perspective

Our aim is to make great-tasting food which makes a positive contribution to a healthy diet.

Our Nutrition Enhancement Program, launched in response to the World Health Organization’s call for action, has substantially reduced salt, saturated and trans fat and sugar in our products. In 2010 we raised our standards further by benchmarking our progress against the highest nutritional standards, based on globally recognized dietary guidelines.

This has inspired us to create healthier products which people want to eat. We relaunched our European salad dressings to reduce salt while delivering great taste and our new Specially for Kids logo on ice creams enables parents to make more informed choices.

Reporting our performance by volume

We have also moved to a more automated reporting system, enabling us to increase significantly the scope of our analysis.

Together, these changes provide a more extensive and robust analysis of our Foods and Refreshment portfolio.

In 2012 we moved from reporting by product (or ‘stock keeping unit’) to reporting by volume (ie tonnes sold). Reporting by volume better reflects the relative impact of our foods and beverages on people’s diets.

Meeting the highest nutritional standards

In 2012, 18% of our portfolio met the criteria for highest nutritional standards, based on globally recognized dietary guidelines. This figure is not comparable with the 25% we reported for 2011 due to the significant changes to our scope. This new scope is prompting us to consider our future actions.

Looking ahead, we are continuing to improve the nutritional profile of our portfolio, while recognizing that this is sometimes difficult. Collaboration between industry, government and public health organizations is needed to address complex diet and lifestyle issues.

Reduce salt levels (M)

Prior to 2010 we had already significantly reduced salt levels in our products. Our goal is to reduce the level further to help consumers meet the recommended level of 5 g of salt per day based on globally recognized dietary guidelines.

  • Our first milestone was to reduce salt levels to an interim target of 6g per day by the end of 2010. This required reductions of up to 25%. Our ambition is to reduce by a further 15-20% on average to meet the target of 5g of salt per day between 2015 and 2020.

  • 80% of our Foods and Refreshment portfolio by volume met salt levels equivalent to 5g per day by end September 2012; for our Foods portfolio alone, more than 50% reached 5g per day.*

  • In the US in 2012, we continued to make strides reducing salt in our Ragu® Organic and Robusto tomato sauce varieties with reductions of up to 22%. Now all of our Ragu® red sauces contain the FDA healthy sodium level of 480mg or less per serving. Our Knorr® brand launched a 25% reduced sodium variety of its Knorr® Homestyle Chicken Stock.
  • In the US, Unilever participated in the National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI) led by the New York City Department of Health as part of our global salt reduction initiatives. Our dry soups, side dishes, Wishbone® salad dressings, pasta sauces, and vegetable oil spreads portfolio successfully met the 2012 sodium reduction targets set by the NSRI.

More on reducing salt levels

Our perspective

Salt consumption in many countries remains much higher than the recommended daily amount. Achieving our target will require a significant shift in consumer behavior and different stakeholders to play their part.

We are using the Unilever Five Levers for Change model to help us identify where to act. We believe we have most impact through creating great-tasting products. Typically, to reduce the level of salt, we completely redesign the recipe so it tastes better as well as being healthier.

Our nutrition measurements cover our Foods and Refreshment products to give a rounded picture of our portfolio. However, the products in our Refreshment category of ice cream and beverages make very small contributions to salt intakes. We identify the proportion of our Foods portfolio that reached 5g per day because this is the most relevant area for salt reduction.

Salad dressings with less salt

Hellmanns vinagarette bottleIn 2012 we reformulated our extensive range of salad dressings in Europe – Knorr, Hellmann’s, Calvé, Amora and Ligeresa – to salt levels that meet our stringent 5g per day target. Up to 35% reduction in salt has been achieved while delivering great taste. These products will be on the market from early 2013.

Unlocking the real taste with reduced-salt products

Foods that need salt for preservation or preparation can contribute significantly to salt intakes. But motivating people to choose products with less salt is difficult.

Unilever initiated consumer surveys on salt reduction among 6,000 consumers in seven countries. The results informed a series of joint workshops with the International Union of Nutritional Sciences, bringing together scientists, policy-makers, food industries and consumer groups to generate compelling communication on salt reduction for consumers.

Our surveys revealed that 80% of people do not see the need to reduce salt intake. Results from the workshops confirmed that we need to put taste at the heart of our approach to salt reduction as people are worried that lower-salt foods will not taste as good.

*This number is not comparable to the 61% reported for 2011 measured by product (stock keeping unit)

Reduce saturated fat (M)

We are committed to improving the fat composition of our products by reducing saturated fat as much as possible and increasing levels of essential fats.

  • By 2012 our leading spreads will contain less than 33% saturated fat as a proportion of total fat.

  • A daily portion will provide at least 15% of the essential fatty acids recommended by international dietary guidelines.

  • 92

    92% of our leading spreads by volume contained less than 33% saturated fat as a proportion of total fat by end September 2012.

  • 9292% of our leading spreads by volume provided at least 15% of the essential fatty acids recommended by international guidelines by end September 2012.
  • In the US, all of our leading spreads met our 2012 target to contain less than 33% saturated fat as a proportion of total fat with all our leading spreads containing less than 27% saturated fat as a proportion of total fat. Our leading spreads provided at least 15% of the essential fatty acids recommended by international dietary guidelines.

More on reducing saturated fat

Our perspective

The biggest contribution we can make to reducing saturated fat intake is to encourage people to switch from butter to margarine. We have been able to reduce saturated fat levels in the vast majority of our leading spreads – to levels of about half the saturated fat present in butter.

Our leading spreads are those we sell in tubs under brands such as Flora, Becel, Rama and Blue Band, comprising around two-thirds of our soft margarine by volume.

The small proportion of our leading brands that do not meet our target are sold in tropical countries. A higher saturated fat level is required to make the product stable at ambient temperatures. We are investigating cost-effective technologies that will allow us to reduce saturated fat by approximately a third in these countries – taking the saturated fat level to 38% – while still keeping products affordable.

We continue to improve the fat composition of our products by increasing the level of essential fats. For practical reasons, we generally increase essential fats at the same time as we reduce saturated fat levels, so the two targets are closely interlinked.

Up to 80% less saturated fat than butter

After the launch in 2011, we are continuing to roll out our new recipe Flora/Becel margarines, which are now available in more than ten countries. As well as being lower in calories, research has shown consumers find them tastier.

Using technological innovation, the biggest of its kind for 60 years, we have been able to reduce saturated fats by around 25% and calories by 20%. It has up to 80% less saturated fat than butter. Margarine already has a quarter of the carbon footprint of butter and uses around half the land.* Our new recipes will reduce these environmental impacts even further.

* Nilsson K et al. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 2010;15:916-26.

Remove trans fat

  • By 2012, we will have removed from all our products any trans fat originating from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.

  • By September 2012, 100% of our portfolio by volume did not contain trans fats originating from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
  • At the end of 2012, the US had removed any trans fat originating from PHVO from all our food products but two products that have been discontinued in Q1 2013.

More on removing trans fat

Our perspective

To ensure we maintain our performance against this target, we have made the absence of trans fats from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil a standard reporting requirement for all our suppliers.

Reduce sugar

  • Prior to 2010 we had already reduced sugar levels in our ready-to-drink teas. By 2020 we will remove an additional 25%.

  • 4% reduction in sugar by end September 2012.

  • In the US, sugar was reduced by 5.8% since 2010. We reduced sugar in 100% Natural Lipton® Ice Tea Green Citrus and Brisk® Juice Drinks by 20-40 calories per 8 fl.oz. serving. We also launched new Lipton® Tea & Honey Ice Tea with 100 calories per 500 ml bottle.

More on reducing sugar

Our perspective

In 2012 we introduced several Lipton ready-to-drink tea products with reduced sugar levels, particularly in Europe and North America.

Most of these use Stevia (steviol glycosides) – a sweetener from natural sources that provides sweetness without calories.

Additionally, Stevia has a lower carbon footprint than sugar.

Sweetness without calories

Stevia, a sweetener derived from natural sources, is meeting consumer demand for ingredients from natural sources while also delivering a reduction in sugar. While reducing sugar, we also improved the taste of many of our Lipton ready-to-drink teas.

Reduce calories

  • By 2014 100% of our children’s ice creams will contain 110 kilocalories or fewer per portion. 60% will meet this level by 2012.

  • 81% of our children’s ice creams contained 110 kilocalories or fewer per portion by end September 2012, up from 73% at end 2011.

  • In the US, 100% of our children's ice creams contain 110 calories or less per portion at end 2012.

More on reducing calories

Our perspective

Man & daughter with Walls ice-creamWe continue to invest significantly in this area and are on track to meet our 2014 target. In particular, we are working on new technologies that will allow us to reduce calories by lowering fat and sugar. As part of our Partner to Win strategic supplier initiative, we have a long-term partnership with Barry Callebaut, our supplier of cocoa and chocolate products, to develop cocoa based coatings with reduced saturated fat.

In 2013 we started to introduce a Specially for Kids logo on ice creams that meet our strict nutrition criteria and still appeal to children as fun treats through a combination of taste, texture, shapes and colours. The logo helps parents to identify ice creams that children can enjoy as part of a balanced diet and active lifestyle. To promote active lifestyles we have partnered with a leading child development psychologist to create an ‘adventurous play’ guide with imaginative and active games.

Seductive nutrition

See for yourself how exchanging one or two ingredients for healthier food selections, or adjusting portion sizes, can reduce total calories in one of your top dishes.

Use the Calorie Calculator as Inspiration to Reduce Calories.

More at: www.unileverfoodsolutions.us(Link opens in a new window)

People enjoy healthy eating at home. Our research shows they would like healthier options when they eat out too. Our professional catering business, Unilever Food Solutions, is working with restaurant operators around the world to make their menus more nutritious with the help of our products.

Working with food experts and industry-specific bodies, our Seductive Nutrition program provides recipe ideas and advice for creating nutritious and delicious meals, especially for top-selling dishes. Under the program in the US, over 5,000 operators pledged to remove more than 450 million calories from their menus in 2012.

The campaign is already active in 17 countries worldwide. It will enable restaurateurs to tap into consumer demand and increase revenues, while also contributing to public health.

Strong growth

Strong growth logoUnilever is the world’s largest ice cream company, with brands on sale in over 40 countries. Our popular Max and Paddle Pop ice creams continue to do well, achieving underlying sales growth of nearly 20% in 2012, and will be using our new Specially for Kids logo. By the end of 2012, 81% of our children’s ice creams contained 110 kilocalories or fewer per portion.

Improve heart health

  • By 2020, we aim to motivate 100 million people to take our Heart Age test. [Target revised 2013].

    Our goal is to motivate people to adopt healthier diets and lifestyles, as this can reduce elevated heart age.

  • In 2012 we joined forces with Microsoft to launch Heart Age as an app.

More on improving heart health

Our perspective

In 2009 Unilever and the World Heart Federation launched Heart Age, a simple online tool to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease. The tool proved an excellent mechanism for making heart health personally relevant.

Until 2011 our Flora/Becel spread brands provided the foundation for raising awareness of Heart Age but recognized that, by themselves, they could not drive enough people to the tool. In our 2011 Progress Report we stated that these brands would no longer be the sole sponsors of the Heart Age tool, and that Unilever would look to work with a broader set of external partners with a common heart health goal to maximize the tool’s potential.

During 2012, Unilever joined forces with Microsoft to launch the Heart Age application on the new Windows 8 platform. This gives us the potential to reach a significant number of people as the platform grows, to co-promote the tool and to explore opportunities through Microsoft’s emerging health platform.

Following the launch in December, we are further expanding the reach of Heart Age via a wide consortium of partners interested in heart health, in addition to continued support from our Flora/Becel pro•activ brands and Microsoft.

Providing healthy eating information

Our aim is to provide clear, simple labeling on our products to help consumers make choices for a nutritionally balanced diet. All our products in Europe and North America provide full nutritional information.

  • By 2015, this will be extended to cover all our products globally. We will include energy per portion on the front of pack plus eight key nutrients and % Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA ) for five nutrients on the back of pack.*

  • We have achieved full nutritional labeling in Europe, North America, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand; in 2012 we made progress in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

  • All our food products in the US provide full nutrition information in the form of the standard Nutrition Facts Panel required by the FDA. In addition, we have started to provide nutrition information for our recipes used in promotions, on our multi-branded makinglifebetter.com site, and on brand specific sites. We will provide Facts Up Front icons on our products by 2015.

More on providing healthy eating information

Our perspective

To help us meet our target, at the end of 2012 we put in place a new system to improve our monitoring and tracking of this information.

Our standards in this area often go beyond country regulations, providing more nutritional information on labels than is required locally. Examples include Kenya, the Philippines, Turkey, Russia and some countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

*Where applicable and legally allowed and in accordance with local or regional industry agreements.

Improve employee health and nutrition

Our Lamplighter employee program aims to improve the nutrition, fitness and mental resilience of employees. By 2010 it had already been implemented in 30 countries, reaching 35,000 people.

  • In 2011 we aimed to extend the reach of Lamplighter to a further eight countries. We will implement Lamplighter in an additional 30 countries between 2012 and 2015. Our longer-term goal is to extend it to all the countries where we operate.

  • Lamplighter has reached over 50,000 employees across more than 50 countries. In 2012 it was rolled out to 12 countries.
  • In the US, we have aligned our award-winning UNICare Health Management program with Lamplighter, Unilever's global well-being initiative, through a revamped Advantage PPO qualification initiative. New programs were also created including a Health Concierge service to help with doctor and hospital recommendations and appointments and a consolidated approach to leave management. The new programs complement existing health assessment, coaching, biometric screening and health behavior services.

More on improving employee health and nutrition

Our perspective

Lamplighter is key to addressing the top three health risks we have identified across our business: mental well-being; lifestyle factors (eg exercise, nutrition, smoking and obesity which can lead to conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease); and ergonomic factors (eg repetitive strain injury).

In 2012 we implemented a global No Smoking Standard for employees while at work. By the end of the year, compliance with the new standard reached 72%; we aim to reach 100% in 2013.

Lamplighter helps us to analyze our employees’ health risks and to put in place steps to control them. For example, in India the program has reduced the number of employees categorized as ‘high risk’ (due to obesity or hypertension for example) from 8% to under 4% over 2007-12.

It is proving a valuable tool for safeguarding employees’ health, improving productivity and reducing costs.

Investing in Employee health

We have increasing evidence that our Lamplighter health program is a sound investment for our employees and for our business. Independent analysis shows a return on investment of €4.82 for every €1 invested in the program in Brazil, based on combined healthcare and productivity savings over 2008-11.

In Singapore the return on investment was €3:1 over 2009-12 and there has been a reduction in the health risk factors associated with higher healthcare costs, such as poor diet and fitness.

"Industry needs to collaborate with government and public health organizations."

Future challenges

Reducing salt continues to be one of the biggest nutritional challenges facing our industry. People tend to prefer the taste of traditionally salted products. If the food is perceived as not salty enough, people will often compensate by adding salt at the table.

We are pursuing three approaches:

  • exploring technologies that provide an alternative to sodium salts

  • reformulating recipes with other ingredients to retain flavor while reducing salt

  • changing consumer preference for salt by gradually reducing salt levels over time.

However, the salt challenge cannot be solved by one company acting alone. Ultimately, it requires collaboration between industry, governments, public health organizations and the scientific community.

In developing and emerging countries millions of people have diets lacking in essential micronutrients. Our challenge remains reaching more people worldwide with fortified products that are affordable and commercially viable.

Our approach is to integrate fortification into our core product portfolio. About a third of Unilever sales volume (excluding our ready-to-drink tea business) contains at least 15% of the recommended daily amount (RDA) of an essential vitamin or mineral. For example, our spreads are fortified with vitamins A and D, and also contain vitamin E naturally present in the vegetable oils.