Speaking to a crowd of operators, chefs and media gathered at the Chef’s House in Toronto, Domenic Russo, vice-president of Sales for the global giant, whose well-known brands include Knorr, Hellmann’s, and Lipton, told the crowd “Today’s operators are looking for new ideas as they face huge challenges. Our task is to take our capabilities and help operators rise to the demands of their business.”
The company plans to help operators focus on guests, menu and kitchen. As part of the global strategy, Unilever Food Solutions has created a World Menu Report, a global survey measuring consumer attitudes and behaviours toward eating out. “When I look at the report I see key trends emerging,” noted Lisa Carlson, a dietitian speaking at the reception. “Consumers want to know more about the food they eat, more about the source of the food and more about how it’s prepared and [its] nutrition[al value].”
On the menu side, the goal is to provide ideas and inspiration to help chefs and operators keep menus fresh, exciting and nutritious. In recent years, to meet changing nutrition requirements, Unilever has removed 37,000 tons of sugar, 48,000 tons of saturated fat and trans fats and 9,000 tons of salt from its products. “The environment is changing,” said Carlson, “you can’t do things we used to do just a few years ago.” Heinz Lehmann, corporate executive chef, who was on hand to highlight a sampling of Unilever products, prepared by the Chef’s House brigade, echoed the sentiment. “Today’s chefs can’t be selfish anymore. In the past, chefs and dietitians used to be like cats and dogs, but it’s not like that anymore,” he said.
For its kitchen focus, Unilever’s continuing mandate is to create ingredients and ideas that save prep time in the kitchen without compromising flavour or flair. “We can provide tips on how to keep the kitchen running smoothly,” said Lehmann.
“While services are not necessarily new to Unilever Food Solutions, the difference is we are now focusing on them as part of our overarching identity and making them accessible 24/7 to all prospective customers through an enhanced web presence,” said Ted Skodol, director, Customer and Channel Marketing. “We understand the valued partnership that binds chefs to their guests, and we use our expertise to help chefs and operators better understand their guests. With the best professionals in the business, we help our customers evolve with the ever-changing foodservice landscape.”
The company also relaunched its logo in orange to clearly distinguish the foodservice division of the global brand. “It’s a minor change but critical,” said Russo. The brand’s new tagline “inspiration every day” expresses the company’s new vision to inspire chefs and operators by providing them with professional ingredients and services to help them succeed.
The relaunch of Unilever Food Solutions in North America is part of a global rollout in the 74 countries the company operates. It represents a step toward the goal of doubling growth while reducing environmental impact.