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Women's Month: The future of 'good nutrition' is in her hands | Philstar.com
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Women's Month: The future of 'good nutrition' is in her hands

Dolly Dy-Zulueta - Philstar.com
Women's Month: The future of 'good nutrition' is in her hands
Unilever Nutrition Business Group President Hanneke Faber (4th from left) joins SEA Nutrition GM Kristine Go (4th from right) in market visits across Southeast Asia, with this photo taken in a mom and pop store in Indonesia
Photo release

MANILA, Philippines — In 2022, Unilever announced changes to its global organizational model to make it a simpler, more category-focused business. The new structure is meant to help the company navigate to sustainable growth, faster innovation, and a profitable future, focusing on only five distinct Business Groups, namely Beauty and Wellbeing, Personal Care, Home Care, Ice Cream, and Nutrition.

Assigned to lead one of these five important business groups, Unilever veteran Kristine Go has stepped into her role as the new general manager of Unilever’s Nutrition business for Southeast Asia. She is backed by almost two decades of Unilever experience across multiple markets and with winning brands and campaigns under her belt. The latest award she has received was Chief Marketing Officer of the Year from the Asia Pacific Tambuli Awards 2022.

Nutrition goals in Southeast Asia

Leading the Nutrition business for all nine markets in Southeast Asia is no joke, as the Unilever Nutrition Southeast Asia business serves equivalent to one-tenth of the world’s population. There are a lot of opportunities, therefore, to continue growing the business in the region in the categories of scratch cooking aids, dressings, and functional nutrition.

In 2020, Unilever announced an expanded Future Foods ambition with two key objectives. One is to help people transition towards healthier diets, and the other is to help reduce the environmental impact of the global food chain.

For this ambition, the company has committed to:

  • An annual €1 billion global sales target from plant-based meat and dairy alternatives within five to seven years.
  • Halve the food waste in direct operations from factory to shelf by 2025.
  • Double the number of products that deliver positive nutrition by 2025.
  • Continue to lower calories, salt and sugar across all products.

“What we put on our plate has an impact on our health and the health of the planet, and the livelihood of thousands of farmers, so as Unilever Nutrition, we’re on a mission to help everyone eat for food today,” Kristine explained.

The regenerative Agriculture Principles developed by the company helps farmers throughout its supply chain to regenerate their land and ensure its long-term viability and resilience, while at the same time growing ingredients for its products that are in harmony with nature.

Indonesia’s beloved Bango sauce, for example, uses key ingredients like black soybean and coconut sugar. So the company partnered with the University of Gajah Mhada to develop a distinct variety of soybeans planted during the dry season, thus helping supplement income for 2,500 smallholder farmers. Unilever Indonesia also works with the Balit Palma Institute to develop a dwarf variety of coconut trees that would provide better yield, thus earning a significantly higher income for the community and promote safer farming practices for the land and the farmers.

In the Philippines, the focus is on sampalok (tamarind), which is a key ingredient in Knorr’s portfolio. So its partner farms have fully integrated sustainability principles in its operations, a system that benefits over 800 smallholder sampalok farmers and their respective families.

Through the programs of regenerative agriculture that it has so far been utilizing, Unilever is effectively striving for a future where the food system can put food on 10 billion plates while at the same time caring for the planet. The health of the planet no longer has to be sacrificed to feed people.

More accessibility in the Philippines

On the average, Filipino families prepare 45 dishes per week. Cooking at home and bonding with the family over home-cooked meals have become an important part of family time in the aftermath of the pandemic. And what brings them together is food.

This is why Unilever Nutrition is looking at Knorr and Lady’s Choice as among the company’s prized food brands in the Philippines because they make Filipino family meal favorites, such as sinigang and macaroni salad, easy and quick to prepare. Key partnerships with the government and NGOs have resulted in such a program as the Knorr Nutri-Sarap Program, which educates and empowers mothers to prepare nutritious, delicious and affordable meals for the family, cutting malnutrition rates by 50% in Metro Manila and CALABARZON. Recognized globally as a best-in-class purpose initiative, it is now replicated in multiple Unilever markets. One of these is Indonesia with its Royco Nutrimenu Program.

Important to note is that flexitarism is now a key global food trend, with 23% of global consumers on a low meat diet. Catering to this market is Unilever Food Solutions’ plant-based options that do not compromise on taste and texture. They are now available in the Philippines and other key markets through The Vegetarian Butcher.

“We share with our suppliers and growers a joint vision on sustainability, to help minimize negative impacts on the environment, protect biodiversity and contribute to better rural livelihoods. This is how we drive change in our food systems and how we reshape the Southeast Asian food culture to one that is more delicious, more nutritious, and more sustainable,” Kristine said.

RELATED: Women's Day: Josie Natori champions 'Made in the Philippines' to the world

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