Unilever investors call AGM vote to push for healthy food targets

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

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  • Investor team suggests health and fitness ‘a vital blind spot’
  • Additional governments taxing superior sugar, calorie products
  • Call for additional details, targets to strengthen healthy meals share

LONDON, Jan 20 (Reuters) – A group of traders in Unilever (ULVR.L) mentioned on Thursday they had submitted a fresh resolution urging the organization to take care of a “essential blind location” in its tactic and established ambitious targets to sell more healthy meals.

The resolution by an 11-robust investor team with $215 billion in belongings, such as Candriam, Actiam and Greater Manchester Pension Fund, calls on Unilever to disclose the latest proportion of income connected to more healthy solutions.

It also urges the organization to established a focus on to “drastically improve” that share by 2030, and publish an once-a-year review of their development.

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When Unilever, proprietor of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Pot Noodle models, is witnessed as a chief in sustainable company by quite a few resources, the investors mentioned growing restrictions all-around wellbeing intended a failure to act could hit its funds.

Governments in several of the firm’s key marketplaces have launched taxes on items superior in sugar or calories as obesity concentrations rise.

“Unilever has very long been a sustainability leader. Some even criticise it for currently being way too focused on ESG. But the overall health profile of the meals and consume merchandise it sells remains a blind place,” said Ignacio Vazquez, a senior manager at liable expense NGO ShareAction, which co-ordinated the resolution.

British fund supervisor, Terry Smith, whose Fundsmith vehicle is a major-10 Unilever trader, lambasted Unilever last week for getting “obsessed” with promoting its sustainability credentials at the expense of performance. go through far more

“By voicing their assistance for this resolution, Unilever’s buyers can aid to drive adjust at the heart of a person of the most important meals and consume producers in the globe although also shielding themselves from regulatory and reputational hazards,” Vazquez explained.

In reaction, Unilever reported it shared ShareAction’s belief in the importance of having a lengthy-phrase method for nutrition and health, and publishing targets, and had produced a commitment to cut down sugar, salt and calories in its items.

The enterprise claimed it ideas to update its model for assessing nourishment in 2022, “producing it far more stretching and making certain it greater reflects our existing portfolio and the job our merchandise participate in in the meal plans of our people”.

The resolution follows identical phone calls for action at past year’s AGM, which ShareAction reported had not resulted in a great deal development.

Whilst Unilever explained that in 2020, 61% of its food and drink sales ended up of merchandise with “superior dietary requirements”, the buyers mentioned they questioned its metrics.

“It is critical that a business with these a scale of leverage and ability demonstrates attempts to set its targets and disclosures on the basis of authorities-endorsed nutrient profiling models in which it operates,” Sophie Deleuze, direct ESG analyst of engagement & voting at Candriam, advised Reuters.

Deleuze urged Unilever to perform and define their possibility profile in nations around the world where by it operates, factoring in aspects which includes present and impending regulatory pressures, the wellbeing profile of buyers, and their item choices as a foundation for reformulation.

The shift will come at a turbulent time for the firm, which late on Wednesday correctly abandoned a 50 billion pound ($68.11 billion) proposal to invest in the purchaser wellness unit of GlaxoSmithKline. read more

Promoting balanced food and consume has become a sizzling-button problem for buyers. Late last year, investors handling 12.4 trillion in belongings urged policymakers to use fiscal and regulatory steps to aid correct what they explained as a “global nourishment crisis”. browse a lot more

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

Our Criteria: The Thomson Reuters Trust Rules.