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Unilever sets a precedent on health reporting

One of the world’s largest food manufacturers commits to new health reporting following shareholder pressure

Unilever has, today, committed to setting a new benchmark for public reporting on the healthiness of food sales.

This is huge news!

It is a direct result of months of negotiation following the submission of our health-based shareholder resolution – alongside 11 institutional and over 100 individual shareholders - earlier this year.

Setting a global precedent for food manufacturers

2.5 billion people use Unilever’s products every day. Their brands are available in over 190 countries worldwide. In the UK, Unilever’s products can be in 98 per cent of households.

The reach and impact of their products on our health is unprecedented.

Unilever has committed to the healthiness of its sales against major government-endorsed Nutrient Profile Models – as requested by our resolution - as well as its own internal metric.

It will publish annual assessments of this data for 16 of its key strategic markets.

The first report will be published in October 2022.

The company has also agreed to set new stretching targets to grow the proportion of its healthier products by this date, in advance of its 2023 AGM – another key ask for its investors.

The move sets a new precedent for global food manufacturers.

According to a recent assessment from the Access to Nutrition Initiative less than a third of all packaged food and drinks products are classified as healthy against a government-backed definition.

By committing to disclose against endorsed models, Unilever will allow shareholders to accurately assess the healthiness of the company’s portfolio – and therefore its impact on health.

We hope this will set an example. And that other manufacturers across the sector will take up the call and improve the quality of their reporting on health.

In doing so, they can drive the uptake of healthier products and ultimately improve global malnutrition.

Unilever has taken important steps – but there is more to be done

Unilever’s new commitment sets the wheels in motion for significant progress on reporting. To acknowledge this progress we have withdrawn our shareholder resolution from the ballot at this year’s AGM.

But there is still more to be done.

Unilever has pledged to continue constructive engagement between board-level company representatives and the shareholder group in the months leading up to the announcement of its targets and disclosures.

It will continue engagement beyond this point, to 2024 as these are developed and implemented.

ShareAction’s Healthy Markets investor coalition will have a key voice in this ongoing process.

We will continue to explore the possibility of further action if the company’s commitments and targets are not met.

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