Knorr talks sustainability for the first time as it looks to ‘democratise’ nutritious food

As one of Unilever’s largest brands, Knorr believes it can drive tangible behaviour change that has a lasting positive impact on the environment and people’s health.

Knorr has joined forces with leading conservation organisation World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to launch its first global food sustainability campaign with the aim of raising awareness of more sustainable food choices and ultimately getting people to change the way they eat.

The campaign is accompanied by a new report that identifies 50 plant-based, “future-facing” foods the Unilever-owned brand believes people should eat more of in order to improve their health and reduce the negative impact food has on the environment.

The three areas Knorr is trying to drive behaviour change in are getting people to consume a greater variety and larger amount of vegetables, more plant-based protein in place of meat, and drive variety in the types of grains people are eating, away from ‘monocrops’ such as rice, wheat and maize.

As Unilever’s largest food brand, operating in 90 countries, Knorr believes it can use its scale to effect real change. It also believes people can reduce the carbon footprint of their food by simply changing one ingredient or meal each week.

“We are a 180-year-old brand and have been committed to sustainability for just under a decade,” April Redmond, global vice president of Knorr, tells Marketing Week.

“We haven’t really talked very much about it so thought this is our opportunity to get out there and talk about what we’re doing to help the people we serve and make food better for them and the planet. Because of our scale we can make food available to a lot of different types of people at many different levels within society.”

READ MORE: Brands missing out on £820bn opportunity by not pushing sustainability

The 50 foods are a combination of familiar, although under-consumed, foods such as lentils, wild rice and kale, as well as less globally well-known foods like fonio, pumpkin flowers and cactus. Each has been selected based on its nutritional value, relative environmental impact, flavour, acceptability, potential accessibility and affordability.

Redmond says Knorr has been trying to “democratise” nutritious food since the company was founded in 1838. In 2019, this involves bringing more sustainable and nutritious ingredients into its products and ultimately getting those on the shelves and selling them to consumers.

While still in the early days of product development, Knorr is looking at substituting mainstream products, such as couscous, with Future 50 ingredients to familiarise consumers with the 50. It will also be using the recipe pages on its website to try and influence what people choose to eat.

WWF’s Living Planet Report, published in October 2018, found that wildlife populations have declined by 60% globally in less than 50 years, with the world’s food system being the biggest driver of biodiversity loss. By 2050, the world population is predicted to increase to ten billion people, adding further pressure to the environment and the global food system.

Meanwhile, as the way food is being grown and produced damages soil, pollutes the air and causes deforestation, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation predicts the world may have fewer than 60 harvests left if current rates of degradation continue.

“To drive a change of this scale is going to take a coalition approach,” Redmond says, adding that Unilever is currently talking to “lots” of different partners.

“We’re trying to use the opportunity that Unilever presents, but also a big brand like Knorr presents, to convene action around this very important issue.”



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