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Unilever investors call AGM vote to push for healthy food targets

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 overall health ‘a very important blind spot’
  • Extra governments taxing substantial sugar, calorie merchandise
  • Call for a lot more data, targets to strengthen wholesome food stuff share

LONDON, Jan 20 (Reuters) – A group of investors in Unilever (ULVR.L) explained on Thursday they had submitted a fresh new resolution urging the business to repair a “important blind spot” in its system and established formidable targets to market healthier food items.

The resolution by an 11-solid trader group with $215 billion in assets, like Candriam, Actiam and Greater Manchester Pension Fund, calls on Unilever to disclose the recent proportion of profits linked to healthier products and solutions.

It also urges the enterprise to set a goal to “noticeably maximize” that share by 2030, and publish an annual assessment of their development.

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While Unilever, owner of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Pot Noodle brand names, is observed as a chief in sustainable enterprise by a lot of money, the buyers claimed expanding polices all around health and fitness intended a failure to act could hit its funds.

Governments in many of the company’s major marketplaces have launched taxes on solutions higher in sugar or energy as being overweight levels increase.

“Unilever has long been a sustainability chief. Some even criticise it for remaining also concentrated on ESG. But the health and fitness profile of the foodstuff and drink merchandise it sells continues to be a blind location,” stated Ignacio Vazquez, a senior manager at liable financial commitment NGO ShareAction, which co-ordinated the resolution.

British fund manager, Terry Smith, whose Fundsmith vehicle is a best-10 Unilever investor, lambasted Unilever last 7 days for remaining “obsessed” with endorsing its sustainability qualifications at the price of general performance. read a lot more

“By voicing their assist for this resolution, Unilever’s traders can assistance to push change at the heart of one particular of the largest food items and consume manufacturers in the world even though also shielding them selves from regulatory and reputational pitfalls,” Vazquez stated.

In reaction, Unilever reported it shared ShareAction’s perception in the significance of possessing a prolonged-phrase tactic for nourishment and health and fitness, and publishing targets, and had designed a dedication to cut down sugar, salt and energy in its merchandise.

The organization mentioned it programs to update its design for assessing diet in 2022, “building it additional stretching and making certain it better reflects our recent portfolio and the role our solutions engage in in the diets of our shoppers”.

The resolution follows equivalent calls for action at previous year’s AGM, which ShareAction claimed experienced not resulted in much development.

When Unilever said that in 2020, 61{6f90f2fe98827f97fd05e0011472e53c8890931f9d0d5714295052b72b9b5161} of its foodstuff and consume revenue were being of products and solutions with “substantial dietary criteria”, the traders mentioned they questioned its metrics.

“It is key that a corporation with such a scale of leverage and potential demonstrates initiatives to established its targets and disclosures on the basis of authorities-endorsed nutrient profiling styles exactly where it operates,” Sophie Deleuze, lead ESG analyst of engagement & voting at Candriam, told Reuters.

Deleuze urged Unilever to carry out and outline their chance profile in nations exactly where it operates, factoring in factors which include current and approaching regulatory pressures, the health profile of consumers, and their product or service preferences as a basis for reformulation.

The go comes at a turbulent time for the company, which late on Wednesday correctly deserted a 50 billion pound ($68.11 billion) proposal to purchase the customer well being unit of GlaxoSmithKline. study far more

Advertising and marketing wholesome food items and consume has turn out to be a very hot-button situation for investors. Late previous 12 months, investors taking care of 12.4 trillion in property urged policymakers to use fiscal and regulatory measures to support repair what they described as a “global nutrition disaster”. read through much 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 Have confidence in Ideas.