The catering supply company, which operates the Knorr, Hellman's and Colman's brands, this morning launched the initiative at the Houses of Parliament with BBC's Celebrity Masterchef winner Lisa Faulkner backing the campaign.
As part of the initiative, UFS has revealed the findings of its latest World Menu Report which suggests more than half of diners want healthier options but nearly as many think the more nutritious options don't sound as tempting or will be as filling.
The company is therefore encouraging chefs to consider making small changes to the dishes that are already popular on their menus, making them healthier but not re-branding them entirely as 'the healthy option'.
"Eating out should still be a treat for consumers when they want it to be and we don’t want to change this," Tracey Rogers, managing director of Unilever Food Solutions, said.
"What we do want to do is raise awareness to chefs that they have the power to make small changes that won’t impact on taste or quality," she added.
In January the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley praised the impact the Responsibility Deal has had so far on the health of the nation. The deal includes commitments from a number of hospitality companies to calorie labelling. Lansley has also set a target to cut 5 billion calories a day from the British diet.
A target Unilever says can be easily achieved by removing just 24 calories from each dish on each restaurant menu.
The company will be taking the campaign around the country by touring an 'Ambu-lunch' to chefs and catering colleges to show how easy it can be to transform dishes without ruining taste. UFS has also launched a ‘Seductive Nutrition’ tool-kit and online calorie calculator to help chefs reduce calories and adapt their menus.
World Menu Report
Other findings in the latest World Menu Report from UFS suggest 78 per cent of diners prefer to treat themselves when eating out. More than half of consumers surveyed look for healthier options but just under half think those options are not as filling, more expensive or not as tasty.
UFS also asked consumers what changes they would like to see chefs make to dishes to make them healthier. The top responses were:
- More vegetables
- Better portion sizes
- Less fat
- Fresher ingredients
- Fewer calories
- More grilled food