Main areas of strength
• Unilever ranks second on the U.S. Index Corporate Profile with a score of 4.7 out of 10.
• The company has a strong focus on health and nutrition embedded in its commercial strategy. Unilever consistently applies its global Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) and commitments to the United States and provided extensive supporting evidence publicly and under a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) to ATNF.
• Unilever leads in Category B - Products. It covers almost all of the relevant nutrients for reformulation across its main product categories in the United States, such as salt/sodium, added sugars and saturated fat. It also discloses performance against its high-level nutrition targets. Its Nutrient Profiling System (NPS) encompasses all of the main aspects that are assessed in the ATNI methodology and is published in full.
• Unilever has a strong policy on responsible marketing to children and pledges to follow the two main sets of industry self-regulation commitments by being a Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) member and supporting the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) Guidelines. It makes a near-complete set of explicit commitments regarding marketing channels, techniques and messages to ensure responsible marketing practices in the United States.
• The company has an extensive Health and Wellness program that is accessible for all U.S. employees and extends the program to family members. It encompasses among others, health assessments, exercise and nutrition components and individual incentives to participate.
• Unilever employees in the United States are eligible for 16 weeks of paid maternity leave. The company provides dedicated and fully equipped rooms for breastfeeding mothers in all U.S. facilities.
• Unilever provides nutrition label information online through the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) SmartLabel system for all products in the United States.
Priority areas for improvement
• Unilever ranks seventh on the U.S. Index Product Profile with a score of 3.9 out of 10. About 7% of sales was estimated to be derived from healthy products (defined as a Health Star Rating (HSR) of 3.5 or more) and 5% from products that meet World Health Organization (WHO) Euro criteria for marketing to children. However, Unilever reports that 29% of its sales volume meets its Highest Nutritional Standards, which it uses as its definition of healthy products. It should review this discrepancy and align its healthy definition to internationally recognized systems such as the HSR. Unilever should step up its efforts to reformulate products to make them healthier and to meet its goal of doubling the number of healthy products by 2020.
• Unilever does not always disclose details about how it implements its global commitments and programs in the United States. It should increase its public disclosure and start reporting formally and regularly on its approach and progress to tackling nutrition issues in the United States.
• Given the absence of a clear policy or strategy, Unilever should codify how it aims to improve the affordability and accessibility of its healthy products in the United States, focusing specifically on priority populations whose access to healthy food is constrained by low income or geographic factors.
• Unilever’s responsible marketing to children commitments only apply in elementary schools. The company should extend these to older children, e.g. up to age 18, and to middle or high schools and other places popular with children. Further, it should improve its policy by lowering its audience threshold to <25%.
• Unilever runs many public health and nutrition programs but does not disclose information about the type of programs it funds and its involvement in their design, nor does it commit to refrain from brand-level sponsorship within these programs. Unilever should strengthen its commitments in these areas.
• Unilever does not make a commitment to only lobby in support of measures to support public health. The company should do so, or at least commit not to lobby against such measures.