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Low-carbon cooking in South Africa

Unilever has given away tens of thousands of low-carbon cooking devices in South Africa, as part of a promotion with popular local brand Rajah.

Helping low-income consumers

The Wonderbag, free with the purchase of three packs of Unilever’s Rajah curry powder bought at Shoprite stores, helps consumers prepare low-cost hot meals while saving energy and reducing emissions.

Food is simply brought to the boil on the stove, then the pot is transferred to the Wonderbag – a heat-retention/insulation cooker – to complete the cooking process.

By reducing dependency on an open-fire stove, the Wonderbag can reduce the fuel consumption needed for cooking by half. South African consumers could save up to €20 on their electricity or paraffin bill per month – equivalent to 10% of the average income in a lower-income household.

With regular use, one Wonderbag can help a household avoid one tonne of carbon emissions every two years. It also reduces the demand for wood as fuel in rural areas, in turn promoting forest regrowth and biodiversity.

Creating jobs & opportunities

Natural Balance, the company behind the Wonderbag is benefiting from the partnership with Unilever and Shoprite too. The bags are made by co-operatives in local communities, creating jobs and offering the women who make them the chance to earn a wage.

Unilever purchased 100,000 bags for the initial Rajah promotion in September 2011, which has created 645 jobs to date. Rajah aims to give away five million bags over the next five years, creating a further 8,000 jobs.

“The Wonderbag bag reduces the health problems associated with smoke from cooking fires and there is a lower risk of shack fires caused by paraffin stoves being either faulty or left unattended,” says Rob Laggar, Unilever’s Vice President Brand Building, Foods.

“At the start of the campaign we estimated that 70,000 bags would be given away over a three-month period. But in the first three weeks since launch, 51,000 were snapped up,” Rob adds. “And since the start of the promotion, Shoprite’s 200g sales of Rajah have tripled.”

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