- Scientific review by Unilever recommends plant-based foods as a way of improving consumer health and benefiting the environment.
Multinational consumer goods corporation Unilever has carried out research into the benefits of plant-based foods. The review, which draws on 141 studies, concludes that a transition towards plant-based diets is desirable to improve consumers’ intake of several vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients such as fibre. This would have the added benefit of reducing the environmental impact of food production.
The review recommends that public health strategies should try to make this transition easier for consumers, with the nutrition industry also playing an important role. However, the scientists caution that all diets studied had some nutritional inadequacies. They say proper education of consumers, along with fortification of plant-based foods with nutrients such as B12, is important to ensure a balanced diet.
Plant-based by Unilever
Unilever says it is taking a nutrition-focused approach with its own products — for example, the meat alternatives in its Vegetarian Butcher range are fortified with B12. The company has an increasing emphasis on plant-based products, and is set to surpass €1 billion in plant-based sales in the next three to five years.
Last year, Unilever reported that The Vegetarian Butcher had seen a huge 70% increase in sales over the previous year, adding that the rise of plant-based foods is now “inexorable”. The corporation is also seeing increasing success with its other plant-based brands, such as its dairy-free Magnum and Ben and Jerry’s ice creams and its vegan Hellmann’s mayonnaise.
“Both the F&B industry and public health bodies have an important role to play in helping consumers transition to a more nutritionally adequate diet. It’s not up to us to decide for people what they want to eat, but it is up to us to make healthier and plant-based options accessible to all,” Ans Eilander, lead scientist at Unilever, told NutritionInsight.