Reinventing food for humanity
Unilever PH’s bold ambition to transform food systems for the people and the planet.
22 April 2021 — To feed more than 10 billion people within our planetary boundaries by 2050, while ending hunger and tackling unhealthy diets, Unilever seeks to advocate for and lead the transformation of global supply chains towards more sustainable and regenerative models.
The COVID-19 pandemic is also heavily affecting food and agriculture, creating major disruption in the food systems. Challenges persist linked to innovation, demand, supply and regulation:
- We produce and eat foods that are too resource intensive – food is responsible for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions, livestock (or meat produce) is responsible for 25% of that; many foods we eat take too much water, land and emit a high amount greenhouse gas.
- We grow and eat the same foods over and over again – we know that 75% of our entire food system is made of only 12 plants and 5 animals. We aren’t getting the benefits from food diversity to help address malnutrition.
- The ways we grow and produce foods are often harmful to the environment.
“As one of the biggest consumer goods companies in the world, with a large Foods & Refreshment portfolio, we want to make a huge impact through our scale and reach. We can help to redesign the global food system to one that provides affordable, quality nutrition, with plenty of plant-based choices, cutting waste, and promoting sustainable agriculture,” shared Ed Sunico, Unilever’s VP for Communication SEA and Head of Sustainable Business and Communication of PH.
Unilever’s new regenerative agriculture principles
In 2010, the company introduced its Sustainable Agriculture Code (USAC), which outlines a set of rigorous standards which would push for improvements across the supply chain. USAC defines sustainable sourcing using 11 social, economic and environmental indicators: soil health, soil loss, nutrients, pest management, biodiversity, farm economics, energy, water, social and human capital, local economy and animal welfare.
Unilever acknowledges that the compliance-oriented approach has not been effective enough and there is a need to urgently scale up the use of technologies and agriculture practices that can protect soils, increase water efficiency, manage on-farm vegetation and crop diversity and reduce emissions while maintaining yields.
Building on USAC as its foundation, Unilever adds a new layer of practices that aim to work with nature to regenerate it. Unilever’s Regenerative Agriculture Principles outlines the five priority areas in most urgent need of action and where they can achieve the biggest impact: soil health, water and air quality, carbon capture and biodiversity.
Unilever adopts the following principles of regenerative agriculture:
- Have positive impacts from agricultural practices on soil health, water and air quality, carbon capture and biodiversity
- Enable local communities to protect and improve their environment and wellbeing
- Produce crops with sufficient yield and nutritional quality to meet existing and future needs, while keeping resource inputs as low as possible.
- Optimize the use of renewable resources while minimizing the use of non-renewable resources
To do this, Unilever is working with a wide variety of stakeholders on targeted programs to implement regenerative farming practices and protect, conserve and restore natural ecosystems. A big part of this is engaging and supporting the farmers who are vital to the maintenance of these environments. This means working not just within the boundaries of the field or the farm where raw materials are grown but looking more broadly on the impact that farming can have on nature.
The Principles maintain that farmers require a fair return for their labor, while nature thrives, and food security can be met.
Sustainable Agriculture milestones in the PH
Unilever’s brands in the Philippines have already made strides in sustainable agriculture.
Knorr, its largest food brand, plays a major role in achieving the company’s sustainability goals and shaping the Filipino food culture.
“Knorr Lutong Nanay” is a 19-year strong program which aims to educate families on nutritious eating and cooking through a 21-day nutrition plan. Undeterred by the challenges of the pandemic, the company has partnered with a local TV network in 2020 for the first ever nutrition-themed edutainment program for kids—the ‘Makulay ang Buhay’ show.
Many of the crops relevant to Unilever’s savoury, dressings, and ice cream categories in the Philippines are sourced locally and sustainably. These include tamarind, gherkins, taro, mango, coconut, among others.
Sampalok is a key ingredient in Knorr’s portfolio so its partner landmark farms are among those that have fully and successfully integrated USAC in its operations. To date, the partnership benefits over 800 smallholder sampalok farmers and their families.
Pilipinas Kontra Gutom
Through active membership in Pilipinas Kontra Gutom (PKG), Unilever works with the government, NGOs, the academe, and the private sector to address and eradicate involuntary hunger in the Philippines.
PKG is a multi-sectoral movement under the IATF for Hunger working towards sustainable solutions on food availability, increased food accessibility, adequacy of food nutrition, and assistance in hunger-stricken communities during time of calamities.
Unilever Philippines co-leads the Adequacy workstream on malnutrition advocacy and awareness.
“Unilever Philippines is fully supportive of this meaningful collaboration led by PKG and we will extend resources and share expertise to ultimately change the way we eat and grow our food for the benefit of communities in need,” shared Kristine Go, Refreshments Director and Unilever’s PKG representative.
This is a paid press release from Unilever Philippines.