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Unilever, Google, and Quorn reveal improvements to workplace food in Workforce Nutrition Alliance report

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4 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
colleagues having a healthy lunch together

Eleven companies including Google, Quorn and Unilever have shared their achievements and goals regarding the improvement of food in the workplace in a new Workforce Nutrition Alliance publication.

Other participating companies include Ajinomoto Group, Eat Well Global, Griffith Foods, Indofood, KAO, Olam Food Ingredients (OFI), Olam Group and DSM.

The Workforce Nutrition Alliance was founded in 2019 by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF).

It aims to help companies implement and follow workforce nutrition programmes that will “positively impact over three million employees in member organisations and supply chains by 2025 and over 10 million by 2030”.

According to GAIN Executive Director Lawrence Haddad, the working environment is “an optimal point of intervention” to help workers, their families and society at large to improve their nutritional health – particularly given that more than half of the worldwide population spends more than a third of their adult lives in the workplace.

The CGF stresses that malnutrition is a pressing issue, with one in nine people being undernourished and one in three classified either as overweight or obese.

Some of the actions Unilever has taken to improve workplace food include creating a Health Improvement programme, which tackles employee nutrition behaviour, physical activity, mental health and other important factors that contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

The voluntary scheme is offered to employees at Unilever sites worldwide and is tailored to individuals according to a clinical evaluation, health risk assessment and lab test results which determine an employee’s health risk score and whether they should take part.

The company is also using the Workforce Nutrition Alliance (WNA) scorecard to improve the nutritional quality of their cafeterias’ food and drink offerings. The scorecard helps companies record their progress in relation to its four pillars: nutrition education, nutrition related heath checks and follow-up, healthy food at work, and breastfeeding support.

Diana Han, MD and Chief Medical Officer at Unilever said: “By joining the Workforce Nutrition Alliance, we now have access to key tools and resources, like the Scorecard, which have allowed us to see where we need to make menu changes in our cafeterias and we are already seeing the benefits.”

Meanwhile Google says it has been making healthy and sustainable food more accessible to its employees through its Food@Google programme.

Working “collectively” and bringing its senior leadership, sustainability, communications, procurement and foodservice service teams together with culinary talent has been key to help the company follow the WNA guidelines, it says.

Michiel Bakker, VP of Global Programs at Google, commented: “The Workforce Nutrition Alliance has provided a meaningful platform for us to galvanise our efforts around employee wellbeing.  We are motivated to use our Global Workplace Programs (Food, Health and Performance, and Sustainability) to optimise the workplace experience of our employees.”

Some of Quorn’s commitments to improving workplace nutrition have included developing better nutrition education for employees to help them understand how they can eat food that is better for themselves and the planet.

In 2021 the company launched the ‘Food for Our People’ initiative where employees are offered free hot lunches each month which include Quorn mycoprotein. The initiative has been put in place in all three manufacturing sites in the UK.

In February 2022, Quorn’s Nutrition Science & Culinary Teams developed a fibre planner across all its offices and manufacturing sites to encourage employees to consume more fibre. Employees were also given a ‘Fibre Focus’ meal planner to help them follow more fibrous recipes at home.

DSM has also used the WFA scorecard to improve its catering. To ensure the food on offer aligns with healthy guidelines, a selection of ‘meat, vegetables, staple food, coarse cereals, fruits, low-fat yoghurt and drinks’ have been included to help employees consume the daily nutritional requirements. The company’s office in China has also introduced a ‘healthy light meal’ option for workers.

As a result of the pandemic, the DSM launched #optimizeyourimmunity campaigns to increase employee understanding on how micronutrients can support a healthy immune system. Workers and their families were also given free access to micronutrients.

It has also been running several nutrition education webinars and learning platforms to help employees educate themselves on eating healthily and sustainably.

Other improvements to workforce nutrition are visible at OFI whose cocoa team in Ecuador have given out nutritious snacks to employees during the week, and at Indofood which is improving maternal health and breastfeeding support for around 2,200 working mothers in the company, by increasing its number of breastfeeding facilities from 40 to 56.

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