Unilever’s two leading food businesses Van den Bergh Foods UK and Birds Eye Wall’s have bowed to consumer pressure and will stop using genetically modified ingredients for the time being.
The move comes as Tesco joins many of its supermarket rivals in removing GM ingredients from own-label food products where possible.
Van den Bergh and Birds Eye Wall’s have declared their intention to use alternative non-GM ingredients and where possible revert to traditional non-GM soya. A Unilever spokesman says: “To make sure the supply is GM free it will be tested by us or the people we acquire it from.”
In a statement it claims the move was prompted by “a growing confusion among consumers over the advantages of GM ingredients”.
Van den Bergh was one of the first companies to adopt GM label-ling, which it used for its Beanfeast. It plans to remove GM soya from Beanfeast within the next two months.
The company has not committed itself to stop using GM ingredients for ever, in case consumer attitudes become more receptive to GM food or if supplies of non-GM soya become scarce.
GM ingredients in some of Van den Bergh’s Vesta range and Birds Eye Wall’s ready meals will also be removed, but the timescale will depend on the availability of alternative supplies.
Gavin Neath, chairman of Van den Bergh Foods UK, says: “This does not change our long-held belief in the potential of modern biotechnology, including the genetic modification of food ingredients.”