Unilever's labelling aids consumer 'choices'

Anglo-Dutch giant Unilever is launching a proprietary front-of-pack labelling scheme that will flag its healthier offerings to consumers in markets all over the globe, and is a part of its worldwide Vitality mission to improve the health of global citizens.

Using criteria based on international guidelines and determined by Unilever nutritionists under its Nutrition Enhancement Programme (NEP), the "Choices" logo will be employed on foods that have restricted amounts of trans fats, saturated fats, sodium and sugars. "Unilever has shared the NEP methodology and resulting benchmarks with nutrition experts in different parts of the world, who have given their positive feedback on the approach," the company said.

The program will be introduced in key markets within 18 months. Unilever has received government backing for its scheme in the Netherlands and said it was prepared to open the Choices programme to other firms with the aim of establishing a unified system across the industry.

"Our research shows that consumers are keen to make healthy choices," said Unilever president, Vindi Banga. "Now we are also stepping up our efforts to improve consumer information … by means of a front-of-pack logo designed to work regardless of geography or product category."

However Unilever's initiative has caused consternation in some markets such as the UK, where the scheme is in conflict with the traffic light system recommended by its regulator, the Food Standards Agency.

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