Unilever and Sodexo:
teaming up for healthier menus
Unilever is not only a valued and important supplier to Sodexo, but also a valued and important customer. Unilever nutritionist Ria Van der Maas explains how the companies come together to meet their common goal: to improve the health and wellbeing of as many people as possible around the world.
What started the collaboration between Unilever and Sodexo?
The basis for Sodexo’s collaboration with Unilever was the strong alignment between Unilever’s ‘Sustainable Living Plan’ and Sodexo’s ‘Better Tomorrow Plan’. These platforms encourage and strengthen each other’s work on healthy menu options.
How does this collaboration respond to customer demand?
Our research was showing that our guests were increasingly looking for healthier options. This was especially the case concerning canteens, which are regular eating places, as opposed to restaurants, which tend to be one-offs.
We also learned from research that guests did not want to drastically change their behavior and turn to completely new dishes. That meant providing customers with the same type of dishes, though which were healthier, without sacrificing taste.
“ Having joint plans and goals in place is a win-win for both Sodexo and Unilever, but also for the foodservices guests. ”
What strengths does each partner contribute?
Unilever always looks to continuously improve the quality of our products, and these improved products are being used successfully in the menus and dishes that Sodexo creates as part of balanced meal offerings. Having joint plans and goals in place is a win-win for both Sodexo and Unilever, but also for the foodservices guests.
What are some examples of your collaboration?
One of the efforts we worked on together was recipe creation for Unilever canteens. Together we exchanged ideas on healthier recipes. Unilever was able to provide nutritional benchmarks about what makes a high-quality meal, and Sodexo then translated this into its choice of ingredients and proportions. It was truly a shared effort, with each company bringing a level of detail that was impressive.
“ In improving recipes we apply the concept of ‘seductive nutrition’: making them healthier, but appetizing as well. ”
What’s next for Sodexo and Unilever?
Reducing salt consumption remains a focus and is still very high on both company’s agendas, as is our work on minimizing sugar and fats. Furthermore we are concentrating on transparent labeling that provides consumers with information about what they are eating in order to make it easier for them to make healthy choices. And lastly, a very important area is to apply the concept of ‘seductive nutrition’ to our recipes: making them healthier, but appetizing as well.