Unilever’s biggest brand Knorr unveiled its commitment to help reduce the prevalence of iron deficiency anaemia in Nigeria, a major public health issue, by making nutritious cooking more desirable, easy to understand and afford. This commitment forms part of Knorr’s social mission to improve the health and happiness of a billion people by unlocking more flavour and goodness from everyday food.
With the majority of Nigerians not eating enough food high in iron, the new initiative will combine a behaviour change programme with the introduction of iron fortified bouillon cubes. The Knorr social mission takes a holistic approach, not only ‘Fork’ – championing nutritious cooking, but also improving livelihoods of the most affected groups – ‘Fortune’ and helping smallholder farmers- ‘Farm’
The announcement follows the release of the 2014 Global Nutrition Report which found that almost half (49 per cent) of women of a reproductive age in Nigeria are anaemic, and according to the Nigerian Demographic and Health Survey done in 2008, the majority of Nigerians are not consuming enough foods that are high in iron. According to the study only 38 percent eat fruits and vegetables, including leafy green vegetables on a daily basis and only 33 percent consume meat daily.
Professor Ngozi Nnam, President of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, explained “vitamin and mineral deficiencies are among the largest public health challenges facing the country right now. Our health system is already overburdened, so we need to educate people on how they can help prevent deficiencies through healthy diets.”
To champion nutritious cooking, Knorr will help drive behavioural change via introducing an intervention programme – ‘The Green Food Steps’ – focused on educating mothers and daughters on the importance of an iron-rich diet through influencing their cooking habits.
Yaw Nsarkoh – Managing Director, Unilever Nigeria says “Cooking habits are deeply rooted but we know that mothers pass recipes on to their daughters, so by educating them on the need for iron-rich ingredients we can drive behaviour change in the next generation. By incorporating leafy greens and the Knorr fortified stock cubes into recipes, the programme will help mothers improve the nutritional value of everyday recipes.”
Toyin Saraki from the Well Being Foundation added “Teenage girls who need 50% more iron than when they were younger to cope with their bodies changes and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to anaemia, initiatives that encourage better nutrition such as Knorr’s can really have a positive impact on maternal health in Nigeria, which is among the worst in Africa.”
The Green Food Steps consists of three simple steps: toss greens into stews, stir them in, and crumble the Knorr iron fortified cube for a more nutritious dish. As part of this, the Knorr cube will be fortified with iron, however, the programme goes further than this, recognising that a change in cooking habits is required for long term impact. The ambition is that these steps will demonstrate that it is easy for people to change their cooking habits without compromising on flavour, time, or cost. Knorr’s Green Food Steps will start by getting 50,000 mothers and daughters to practice the new cooking habits in Ijebu Ode and Amaigbo, with the ambition to roll out to the rest of Nigeria.
Multiple award winning superstar Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, speaking on her reasons for joining the programme, said “As a mother of teenage girls, I feel particularly touched by this issue. It’s nice to be able to raise awareness about iron deficiency anaemia and its consequences. This is a serious issue in Nigeria for many mothers and teenage daughters, who need more iron for development. If we can persuade Nigerian women to make these small, yet powerful changes to their diet, there will be a positive impact on the well-being of not just themselves, but that of their family and ultimately Nigerian society in the long-term.”
The Knorr social mission takes a holistic approach, not only ‘Fork’ – championing nutritious cooking, but also improving livelihoods of the most affected groups – ‘Fortune’ and helping smallholder farmers- ‘Farm’
To improve the livelihoods of women, the ‘Fortune’ element, Unilever has set up an inclusive business model “Gbemiga” with several partners in Nigeria, such as the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the Growing Business Foundation and Society for Family Health (SFH). The model aims to improve the living standards by training the women to sell nutritious products and reinforcing the dietary changes that can help reduce the prevalence of iron deficiency in families across the country.
To help smallholder farmers become part of a sustainable supply chain in Nigeria, the ‘Farm’ element, Knorr is partnering with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The partnership will train local farmers in sustainable agriculture to equip them with the skills required to become part of this long-term sustainable supply chain and improve their livelihoods. This builds on Unilever’s global experience supporting smallholder farmers and their communities with training, finance, nutrition and hygiene programmes.
Globally, Knorr is already set out to sustainably source 100 per cent of the vegetables, herbs and spices that go into its products by 2020. The brand believes this makes a big difference to the taste of the products, the future of the planet and the wellbeing of thousands of farmers. 96 per cent of Knorr’s top 13 vegetables and herbs were sustainable as of January this year.
By championing nutritious cooking, helping smallholder farmers and providing improved livelihoods for women, together, we can make a positive impact for the future of Nigeria, farm, fortune and fork.
Notes to Editors
For more information, please contact: Hassan Bakare – Absolute PR Nigeria
In 1838, Carl Heinrich Knorr moved to the German city of Heilbronn where he opened a factory and experimented with food drying techniques in order to preserve and guarantee quality, flavour and freshness. Over time, Knorr has built on his legacy – from the advent of the stock cube in 1910 to stock pots and bake-in-bags over the 21st century. Today, Knorr still defines itself by those same high standards of quality, flavour and freshness and is one of the world’s largest food brands, sold in more than 87 countries around the world. Based in Heilbronn, Germany, Knorr is also Unilever’s largest brand, with a yearly sales value of 4 billion Euros. Great tasting products, including our iconic bouillon cubes and soups, are at the heart of the brand. Our 300+ chefs are true culinary experts and represent over 48 nationalities, making us one of the biggest employers of professional chefs worldwide. We are also committed to a sustainable future through sourcing agricultural ingredients responsibly and building sustainable practices with all our global factories having eliminated landfill waste.
Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Home and Personal Care products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2 billion consumers on any given day. It has 174,000 employees and generated annual sales of €48.4 billion in 2014. Over half of the company’s footprint is in the faster growing developing and emerging markets (57% in 2014). Their portfolio includes Persil, Dove, Knorr, Domestos, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Wall’s ice cream, Marmite, Magnum and Lynx.
Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) aims to double the size of the business whilst reducing environmental footprint and increasing positive social impact. It says the USLP is their strategic response to the challenges businesses face operating in an uncertain and volatile world. Its three goals are:
- Helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being
- Decoupling their growth from their environmental impact
- And enhancing the livelihoods of millions of people by 2020
Supporting these goals, the company has defined nine commitments, underpinned by targets encompassing social, environmental and economic areas. For more information about the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan at www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/.
Unilever was ranked number one in their sector in the 2014 Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In the FTSE4Good Index Series, they attained a top environmental score of 5, leading to inclusion in the FTSE4Good Environmental Leaders Europe 40 Index. In 2014 they led the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in the GlobeScan/SustainAbility annual survey – for the fourth year running. In 2014 Unilever was named in LinkedIn’s Top 3 most sought-after employers across all sectors and is also LinkedIn’s No. 1 most sought-after FMCG employer worldwide. For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit www.unilever.com.
The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is an international organization launched at the UN in 2002 to tackle the human suffering caused by malnutrition. GAIN is driven by the vision of a world without malnutrition and acts as a catalyst — building alliances between governments, business and civil society — to find and deliver solutions to the complex problem of malnutrition. Today GAIN is on track to reach over a billion people with improved nutrition – a goal for 2015.
About Society for Family Health Nigeria
Society for Family Health Nigeria is one of Nigeria’s largest nongovernmental nonprofit organisations, currently implementing programmes in maternal and child health, cervical cancer, reproductive health, family planning, malaria prevention and treatment and safe water systems; SFH uses research, behaviour change communication and social marketing and targets the poor and vulnerable in hard-to-reach communities nationwide. For further information, please visit www.sfhnigeria.org
IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided nearly US$16.6 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 445 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub.
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 Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc : a Report of the Panel on Micronutrients. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2001.