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Shareholders Force Uniliver to Manufacture Healthy Foods

Unilever has decided to publish nutrition scores for its food portfolio, which includes Ben & Jerry’s and Magnum ice-cream, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, and Knorr stock cubes, against external health metrics and set new targets following pressure from investors over obesity. The oath to evaluate performance against six measures, including the UK’s “high in fat, sugar and salt” definition and Europe’s Nutri-Score, comes after institutional investors, including €150bn asset manager Candriam tabled a shareholder resolution on the issue.

Unilever, which is the world’s largest ice-cream maker, will set out new targets by October and said it would be the first global food group to publish nutritional performance in this way. It will assess performance globally and for 16 key markets by product volume and revenues. The company rival Nestlé has been working on new nutrition standards.

Shareholders Force Unilever to Manufacture Healthy FoodsAn internal report seen by the Financial Times last year said more than 60%  of the Swiss group’s mainstream food and drink products do not meet a “recognized definition of health”. Investors with $215bn in assets like Candriam and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund tabled a resolution in January ahead of Unilever annual general meeting due in May, urging the FTSE 100 consumer goods group to set ambitious targets for selling more healthy foods.

The resolution has now been withdrawn, and  said it would work closely with ShareAction and its Healthy Markets Initiative. Hanneke Faber, president of Unilever foods division, said the changes would “set a new benchmark for nutrition transparency in our industry and accelerate our positive impact on public health”. Unilever existing food and refreshment arm targets, which has €20bn of annual revenues, including doubling the number of products providing “positive nutrition” by 2025.

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