Unilever has launched Choices, a front of pack logo programme designed to help consumers identify packaged foods and beverages that offer a healthier choice.
The programme was unveiled by Vindi Banga, president of foods at Unilever, in Barcelona this week.
The front of pack logo is designed to help consumers choose foods that have limited amounts of trans fats, saturated fats, sodium and sugars. The company says that the initiative is consistent with international dietary guidelines.
Based on these international guidelines, Unilever has developed the Nutrition Enhancement Programme (NEP), which sets out stringent nutritional benchmarks. Products have to meet these benchmarks in order to earn the logo.
Unilver claims that products that feature the logo can contribute to a healthy diet. Unilever has shared the NEP methodology and resulting benchmarks with nutrition experts in different parts of the world, who, according to the company, have given positive feedback on the approach.
"Our research shows that consumers are keen to make the healthy choices," said Banga.
"As part of our commitment to Vitality, we see it as our responsibility to help the consumer in making the healthy choices. We are constantly improving our products by making them healthier.
"Now we are also stepping up our efforts to improve consumer information on pack by means of a front of pack logo designed to work regardless of geography or product category."
Unilever is willing, where possible and appropriate, to open the Choices programme and classifying benchmarks to other parties, with the aim to further help consumers to make the healthy choice the easy choice by providing a simple consumer-friendly system across companies and categories.
The first step of this global programme was taken in the Netherlands last week. Unilever is part of a government-supported coalition (including two food & beverage manufacturers, major retailers and caterers) that will start applying a front of pack logo.
Unilever plans to roll out the Choice programme globally, with the aim to have covered the key countries within the next 18 month.