Unilever marks 175th anniversary with sustainability promises

10 January 2014
Unilever marks 175th anniversary with sustainability promises
To mark its 175th anniversary, Unilever's biggest food brand, Knorr, has announced progress on its commitment to sustainably sourcing its ingredients and revealed the results of a consumer survey looking at shopping attitudes and purchasing behaviour. The study found that food sustainability was not only a business and environmental imperative, but a priority for consumers across the world, including developing markets.
Results from the survey show that a very high proportion (88%) agreed it was important to treat farmland with respect and in a way that protects it for future generations; and 85% felt it was important that global organisations shared sustainable practices with the farmers they work with.
Respondents in developing markets, including China (98%), Brazil (97%) and South Africa (96%), also agreed.
Of the respondents, 75% said they would be more likely to buy a product if they knew it was made from sustainably sourced ingredients. They also believed their food would be of higher quality.
The survey revealed that many purchase decision-makers have little idea about how to identify the sustainability credentials of their food, with only 36% saying they could accurately do so.
At a press conference in Heilbronn, Germany, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, stressed there was a need for change: "Food security is one of the defining issues of the 21st century. Agriculture uses up 70% of our water needs, but a third of the food we produce ends up as waste, and this is worth $750b, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. We should be morally outraged at a world so clearly out of balance."
Polman added that Unilever and large food brands, such as Knorr, have the size and influence to act. Unilever Foods Category President Antoine de Saint-Affrique went on to map out Knorr's sustainable sourcing commitments. "Given the importance of vegetables and herbs to Knorr products, sustainable agriculture is a priority," he said.
Knorr has committed to sustainably sourcing 100% of its agricultural ingredients, including vegetables, herbs, meat and spices, by 2020. It will also make €10m available for sustainable agriculture initiatives for suppliers and farmers by 2020; and will continue to showcase farms that are advanced in sustainable practices as ‘Knorr Landmark Farms'.
Knorr also announced a new initiative, the Knorr Sustainability Partnership, where a logo will be placed on packaging to help consumers identify products with sustainably sourced ingredients.
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