Visiting Worlds Largest Food Company

A few years ago I was invited by Unilever to talk about nutrition and health. I headed to the factory in Rotterdam. They called it a speed dating meeting and every 20 minutes I spoke with another person from the company. I also made margarine. Within a few minutes I ate it on bread – easy! Still, at this moment, the topic margarine, liquid and butter are popular and people still don’t know what is better for your health. 

It was great to see people from my time at Unilever research more than 10 years ago. Rianne Leenen was one of them, a nutritionist who also worked in Vlaardingen at that time. I also met Unilvers chef. Yes they have a chef. He has to make the products tasty, in line with recipes, communication and law. What a coincidence. I knew him from my part time job at the theatre in Wageningen, when I was a student. A very fun and ambitious man, and he still was. He worked at restaurants with stars and now had the responsible function to produce the foods not only for a select group of people but for the whole world.

Unilevers goal with this afternoon was to talk to people in the field: bloggers, foodies, dietitians and nutritionists. They would like to open the discussion, mingle with the public, not only with the professors and bobo’s and see how theys can communicate about health without getting the negative response they get in general. The fact that they still don’t talk via social media is a missed opportunity in my opinion. Today was their first trial with people from the nutrition field other than professors. A good trial because there was input from a younger open generation. Consumers would like to have transparency via the communication lines as FB and twitter. That is the way of communicating nowadays. I would say, well done, continue with talking to your customers and consumers on a larger scale.

My take home message

Since decades Unilver is working on abandoning the trans fats in their margarine and since 2012 Unilever doesn’t use trans fats (produced fats) in all their margarines anymore. Good to hear that they are working to get their products healthier in line with scientific breakthroughs.


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