How to make South Africa a better place
Multinational FMCG giant Unilever and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have agreed to look at ways to make sustainable living commonplace in South Africa and build a brighter future for local communities.
Speaking during an introductory meeting of recently appointed Unilever South Africa CEO, Peter Cowan, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, commended Unilever for the work the company has done to deliver on the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) which was launched in 2010.
“The South African Government is always encouraged to see investors that seek to support the socio-economic development of our communities. This approach challenges us to ensure that we provide a predictable, competitive, equitable and socially responsible environment, conducive to investment, trade and enterprise development,” said Minister Davies.
In the USLP, the company has set itself three big goals to achieve by 2020, underpinned by nine commitments and targets spanning Unilever’s social, environmental and economic performance across the value chain.
One of the focal areas of the USLP is to help more than one billion people improve their health and hygiene by 2020. Minister Davies said as a manufacturer of food products, he saw Unilever brands playing a significant role in complementing the DTI and the Department of Health’s efforts to address the prevalence of lifestyle diseases in South Africa.
Both departments are running a campaign called Eat Well, Eat Safe, Eat Local. The campaign encourages healthy eating while promoting loyalty to locally manufactured food.
“This campaign seeks to market and promote the consumption of local produce in order to preserve and protect jobs in the agro-processing sector. This sector has great potential to be the key driver of employment creation and poverty reduction,” said Minister Davies.
During the discussions, Peter Cowan emphasized Unilever’s commitment to deliver on the company’s vision to decouple growth from its environmental impact, while increasing positive social impact.
“Unilever aims to create a bright future for South Africans through our brands. We want to reach more people in more places more often with brilliant brands and brand experiences to improve their lives. We put social, environmental and economic progress at the heart of our brand development.
“Our commitment goes further: by 2020, we will double the proportion of our portfolio that meets the highest nutritional standards, based on globally recognised dietary guidelines. This will help millions of people to achieve a healthier diet,” said Cowan.
Unilever’s Flora margarine brand undertook a campaign, which resulted in an increased awareness of Cardiovascular Disease risks to 57% by the end of 2012 as measured via a follow-up quantitative study of South African consumers. The Flora and Rama brand tubs have met the target for containing less than 33% saturated fat as a proportion of total fat.
As a consolidation of these set targets, Unilever has made investments of up to R2billion in the last two years. The investments, which are in the construction of an ice cream factory, home care facility and a savoury products factory, will go a long way in facilitating the delivery of these targets. These factories have been constructed with USLP goals in mind as they are built in accordance with world-class eco-friendly standards.
Minister Davies was glad to hear that Unilever was confident of further investment in future and expressed DTI's willingness to support continuing investments with all of the instruments at the disposal of the DTI.
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