August 18, 2022

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Unilever investors call AGM vote to push for healthy food

Unilever emblem is shown in this illustration taken on January 17, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

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  • Trader team suggests health ‘a important blind spot’
  • Far more governments taxing higher sugar, calorie merchandise
  • Get in touch with for much more details, targets to enhance healthful food share

LONDON, Jan 20 (Reuters) – A team of buyers in Unilever (ULVR.L) stated on Thursday they experienced filed a fresh resolution urging the enterprise to take care of a “vital blind place” in its technique and established bold targets to offer healthier meals.

The resolution by an 11-robust investor group with $215 billion in belongings, together with Candriam, Actiam and Greater Manchester Pension Fund, calls on Unilever to disclose the latest proportion of product sales connected to healthier merchandise.

It also urges the organization to established a target to “considerably boost” that share by 2030, and publish an yearly evaluate of their progress.

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Though Unilever, owner of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Pot Noodle makes, is seen as a chief in sustainable business by many cash, the buyers stated growing laws about wellness meant a failure to act could hit its finances.

Governments in lots of of the firm’s major markets have launched taxes on merchandise high in sugar or energy as weight problems concentrations rise.

“Unilever has very long been a sustainability leader. Some even criticise it for remaining also focused on ESG. But the wellbeing profile of the food stuff and drink goods it sells remains a blind location,” mentioned Ignacio Vazquez, a senior manager at responsible investment NGO ShareAction, which co-ordinated the resolution.

British fund manager, Terry Smith, whose Fundsmith vehicle is a top-10 Unilever trader, lambasted Unilever very last 7 days for being “obsessed” with promoting its sustainability credentials at the price of general performance. read through a lot more

“By voicing their help for this resolution, Unilever’s buyers can enable to drive change at the coronary heart of a single of the major foods and drink suppliers in the world while also shielding themselves from regulatory and reputational challenges,” Vazquez mentioned.

In response, Unilever reported it shared ShareAction’s belief in the worth of having a long-term system for diet and well being, and publishing targets, and had built a commitment to decrease sugar, salt and energy in its products.

The business stated it strategies to update its design for assessing nutrition in 2022, “earning it additional stretching and making certain it superior displays our latest portfolio and the role our merchandise perform in the diet programs of our shoppers”.

The resolution follows similar calls for action at final year’s AGM, which ShareAction claimed had not resulted in significantly development.

Though Unilever claimed that in 2020, 61% of its food stuff and drink income had been of items with “large dietary standards”, the traders stated they questioned its metrics.

“It is essential that a firm with this kind of a scale of leverage and capacity demonstrates endeavours to established its targets and disclosures on the foundation of federal government-endorsed nutrient profiling models in which it operates,” Sophie Deleuze, guide ESG analyst of engagement & voting at Candriam, advised Reuters.

Deleuze urged Unilever to conduct and define their possibility profile in nations around the world where it operates, factoring in features which include existing and approaching regulatory pressures, the wellbeing profile of buyers, and their product choices as a foundation for reformulation.

The go comes at a turbulent time for the organization, which late on Wednesday effectively deserted a 50 billion pound ($68.11 billion) proposal to obtain the consumer health and fitness unit of GlaxoSmithKline. browse extra

Marketing healthful food and consume has turn into a hot-button concern for buyers. Late final yr, investors controlling 12.4 trillion in belongings urged policymakers to use fiscal and regulatory measures to aid resolve what they explained as a “global diet crisis”. read through far more

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Reporting by Simon Jessop in London and Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru Enhancing by Jan Harvey

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