Angelika, you work at Unilever - can you describe what you are responsible for?
As global Nutrition Director, I am responsible for continuously raising the bar on the healthiness of all our global foods and beverage products. More specifically, together with my team of expert nutritionists, I ensure that more tasty, nutritious products become available for consumers that have low levels of sugar, salt and saturated fat. At the same time, we work on products that contain more goodies such as vegetables, nuts, fibers, vitamins and minerals. My team is also responsible for the correct and credible nutritional communication on these products. And finally,we help Unilever’s marketing and R&D teams with the development of a portfolio that stimulates more diverse, “plant-based” diets – because eating more vegetables, fruits, nuts & legumes is not only healthier for people, it is also better for the planet.
You are passionate about nutrition. Why is this important for our future?
It is my belief (as it is by many experts), that the way in which we produce and consume food today, is unsustainable in the long run. By 2050, we will need to feed an extra 1.5 billion people. The Global Nutrition Report 2018 says that the burden of malnutrition across the world is already unacceptably high, and progress to tackle it, is unacceptably slow. This report also concludes on a positive note, that the opportunity to fix the world’s food system has never been greater. And we have the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) providing impetus for action. I am passionate about nutrition as it is central to achieving the SDGs. Only when addressing nutrition-related issues, it will be possible to achieve many of the other goals too. This is especially true for Zero Hunger and Health and Wellbeing, but also No Poverty, Gender Equality and Climate Action. These are all linked with food production and consumption.
How is Unilever contributing that future generations eat healthier and more sustainable?
And as one of the largest consumer goods companies in the world, we’re mindful of the huge impact we can make through our scale and reach. As part of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan, we are committed to produce tasty and nutritious foods and drinks. We’re manufacturing our products with respect for ecosystems, benefiting the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and improving the health and well-being of those who enjoy our products. We are also committed to source our ingredients sustainably and to reduce our environmental impact, in particular by minimizing food waste.
You have started your own blog PEAS AT THE TABLE. What is your motivation?
My purpose is being an activist and fighting for worthy causes. As a result, I have always combined my professional job with advocating for healthier eating in my private live. In my spare time, I have organized many presentations on nutrition and events at the day care centers and schools of my kids. After all, developing healthy eating habits in a sustainable way starts with children! I wanted to bundle all the knowledge I have in a book. In fact, it has always been a dream of me to write a book about helping parents to establish healthy eating habits of their children – to have their peas, but also their peace at the table! However, writing a book is rather daunting, so my husband said: “Why not start a blog? If you write one blog every month, then at the end of the year you will have 12 chapters.” So that’s what I did.
What is nutrition - in one sentence?
In which field nutrition experts are really really good in?
In my view, certified nutritionists and dietitians must excel in conveying scientific knowledge in an easy-to-understand and inspiring way to non-experts, our consumers. As experts, we know our content and in order to stay credible, we align with scientific consensus. So we know our facts. But we can’t talk ‘science’ to the people that work for, so we have to translate these facts in such a way that consumers understand it easily.
Do you have a role model?
I am inspired by many experts, many of whom I follow on Twitter. I am particularly inspired by the work of Laura Thomas, who hosts podcast called “Don’t salt my game” in which she addresses all sort of fads on diets. I am also inspired by Prof Mike Gibney, who actively fights against the generalization that all processed foods are unhealthy. And finally, I am impressed by the work of Dr Laura Fernandez, Director-General of EUFIC, who has made science accessible to the general public with the credible, easy to understand, consumer facing campaigns of EUFIC.
And here is the link to Angelikas blog: www.angelikadebree.com.