Unilever sets bold new ‘Future Foods’ ambition

  • Unilever sets €1 billion sales target for plant-based meat and dairy alternatives.
  • Also commits to halving food waste and raising nutritional standards across its brands.
  • Targets announced are part of new global ‘Future Foods’ initiative, to support a healthier, and more sustainable global food system.

Sydney, Australia, November 19, 2020 - Unilever today announced a new annual global sales target of €1 billion from plant-based meat and dairy alternatives, within the next five to seven years. The growth will be driven by increasing vegan alternatives from brands including Magnum, Streets, Continental, and Hellmann’s.

The target is part of Unilever’s ‘Future Foods’ ambition, launched globally today 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 also committed to:

  • 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
    • 85% of Unilever’s global Foods portfolio will help consumers reduce their salt intake to no more than 5g per day, by 2022 .
    • 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.

Unilever has already made significant progress expanding its plant-based dairy alternatives and reducing food waste. In Australia and New Zealand specifically, Unilever has:

  • Accelerated availability of plant-based and dairy alternatives: Including offering dairy free options of Magnum, Weis and Ben & Jerry’s. Meanwhile, Unilever Food Solutions is supporting chefs to cook more plant-based meals using vegan-certified products including Hellmann’s Vegan Mayonnaise, Knorr Intense Flavours and Knorr Tomato Powder.
  • Significantly reduced food waste: Through longstanding programs to reduce waste to landfill across its Australian factories. Unilever has also donated almost 700,000 servings of food and beverage products including Continental, Knorr, Hellmann’s, Lipton Ice Tea, Pure Leaf and T2 to Foodbank for distribution across Australia. Furthermore, Unilever has positively contributed to Yume Food’s mission to achieve “a world without waste” by preventing over 4,000 kgs of surplus food from going to waste in the last year.
  • Enhanced nutritional quality of food products and reformulated ice-creams with less sugar and fewer calories: Continental’s range of Nutrish Snack Pots and Instant Soups include sources of protein or fibre and Future 50 ingredients such as amaranth, quinoa, hemp seed, sweet potato, lentils & sprouted peas. Weis have recently launched mini-sized bars giving Australians portion-controlled options.

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 plant-based 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 hungry while two billion are obese or overweight . One third of all food produced is thrown away . 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 loss 7.”

Jessica Fanzo, Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor of Global Food & Agricultural Policy and Ethics, Johns Hopkins University and a co-author of the EAT-Lancet 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 emissions 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.”

The ‘Future Foods’ ambition also support Unilever’s global commitments to achieve a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023; invest €1 billion in a new Climate & Nature Fund; and achieve net-zero 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 Dairy free ice creams available in Australia include: Magnum dairy free sticks (Classic, Almond, Sea-salt Caramel); Weis dairy free bars (Raspberry & Coconut; Chocolate & Coconut); Weis dairy free sorbet tubs (Mango, Passionfruit, Lemon, Summer Berries, Chocolate); and Ben & Jerry’s dairy free pints (Unfudge Our Future, Choc Caramel Cluster, Peanut Butter & Cookies, Cookie Dough, Chocolate Fudge Brownie).

3 Based in Australia, Yume is an award-winning social enterprise and online marketplace to buy and sell surplus food stock. Unilever Food Solutions has been a long-term partner of the organisation.

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

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

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

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

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

9 Polaris Market Research (2020) https://www.polarismarketresearch.com/industry-analysis/plant-based-meat-market

10 Barclays ‘Carving up the Alternative Meat Market’ (2019) https://www.investmentbank.barclays.com/our-insights/carving-up-the-alternative-meat-market.html

11 FAIRR Report (2020) https://www.fairr.org/article/leading-food-firms-now-have-dedicated-teams-for-plant-based-products/

ENDS

Notes To Editors

The global plant-based meat market is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.8 per cent , set to reach $35.4 billion by 2027. Barclays estimated in 2019 that the wider plant-based market could grow by over 1,000% over the next ten years, reaching $140 billion by 2029. The research also found that 92% of plant-based meals in the UK are consumed by the 22 million non-vegan “flexitarians” in the market.

2020 research by ethical investor network FAIRR highlighted that two in five global food giants now have dedicated teams to develop and sell plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy. Unilever is one of only two companies to be cited as a ‘pioneer’ in this year’s FAIRR ranking of the world’s top 25 food retailer and manufacturers that are shifting to more sustainable protein sources.

Unilever Foods innovation project example
The recent announcement of Unilever’s partnership with microalgae expert Algenuity marks an important step in making this critical shift toward the development of sustainable food alternatives. Despite being packed full of protein, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, microalgae have never really made it into the mainstream, principally because of their strong green colour and bitter taste and smell.

To overcome this, Algenuity has developed an innovative technology named Chlorella Colours® which removes the unpalatable taste, without reducing any of the microalgae’s valuable nutritional content. Their emulsifying and enriching properties are similar to those of traditional ingredients such as eggs, which means they can be used in a wealth of foods including mayonnaise, soups, sauces, meat alternatives, baked goods and pasta. This also, of course, makes microalgae particularly relevant for Unilever brands like Hellmann’s, Knorr and the Vegetarian Butcher.

About Unilever

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2.5 billion consumers a day. It has 150,000 employees and generated sales of €52 billion in 2019. Over half of the company’s footprint is in developing and emerging markets. Unilever employs 1,000 people locally and has offices and manufacturing facilities in Australia and New Zealand.

Unilever has around 400 brands found in homes all over the world, including Dove, Rexona, Lynx, Vaseline, OMO/Persil, Surf, TRESemme, Toni & Guy, Continental, Ben & Jerry’s and Streets.

Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) underpins the company’s strategy and commits to:

  • Helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being by 2020.
  • Halving the environmental impact of our products by 2030.
  • Enhancing the livelihoods of millions of people by 2020.

The USLP creates value by driving growth and trust, eliminating costs and reducing risks. The company’s sustainable living brands delivered 78% of total growth and 75% of turnover in 2019.

Since 2010 we have been taking action through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan to help more than a billion people improve their health and well-being, halve our environmental footprint and enhance the livelihoods of millions of people as we grow our business. We have made significant progress and continue to expand our ambition – in 2019 committing to ensure 100% of our plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

While there is still more to do, we are proud to have been recognised in 2019 as sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and in 2020 - for the tenth-consecutive year - as the top ranked company in the GlobeScan/SustainAbility Sustainability Leaders survey.

For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit https://www.unilever.com.au/

For more information on the USLP: https://www.unilever.com.au/sustainable-living/latest-progress-in-australia-and-new-zealand/

Safe Harbour Statement

This announcement may contain forward-looking statements, including ‘forward-looking statements’ within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as ‘will’, ‘aim’, ‘expects’, ‘anticipates’, ‘intends’, ‘looks’, ‘believes’, ‘vision’, or the negative of these terms and other similar expressions of future performance or results, and their negatives, are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based upon current expectations and assumptions regarding anticipated developments and other factors affecting the Unilever Group (the ‘Group’). They are not historical facts, nor are they guarantees of future performance.

Because these forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, there are important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Among other risks and uncertainties, the material or principal factors which could cause actual results to differ materially are: Unilever’s global brands not meeting consumer preferences; Unilever’s ability to innovate and remain competitive; Unilever’s investment choices in its portfolio management; the effect of climate change on Unilever’s business; Unilever's ability to find sustainable solutions to its plastic packaging; significant changes or deterioration in customer relationships; the recruitment and retention of talented employees; disruptions in our supply chain and distribution; increases or volatility in the cost of raw materials and commodities; the production of safe and high quality products; secure and reliable IT infrastructure; execution of acquisitions, divestitures and business transformation projects; economic, social and political risks and natural disasters; financial risks; failure to meet high and ethical standards; and managing regulatory, tax and legal matters. A number of these risks have increased as a result of the current Covid-19 pandemic. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this document. Except as required by any applicable law or regulation, the Group expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect any change in the Group’s expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based. Further details of potential risks and uncertainties affecting the Group are described in the Group’s filings with the London Stock Exchange, Euronext Amsterdam and the US Securities and Exchange Commission, including in the Annual Report on Form 20-F 2019 and the Unilever Annual Report and Accounts 2019.

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