Tag Archive | "Unilever"

Unilever to build new global foods innovation centre in the Netherlands


FMCG giant Unilever has announced plans to build a new global foods innovation centre in Wageningen, the Netherlands.

This new centre will centralise their Food R&D organisations, currently in Vlaardingen, the Netherlands, Heilbronn in Germany and Poznan in Poland, on one site. All the roles across these sites will now be based in the Wageningen site.

When the site becomes fully operational by April 2019, it will employ around 550 roles on site.

Unilever indicates that, by combining their R&D resources in areas such as foods into key research sites, they will create a “critical mass” of expertise in these areas to ensure that they bring the latest innovations to the markets.

Jan Zijderveld, President at Unilever Europe, says: “The agri-food innovation climate in the Netherlands is very strong. The co-location of all elements of our foods R&D organisation within the foods innovation ecosystem in Wageningen will enable Unilever to strengthen its ability to develop cutting edge foods innovations in close collaboration with the Wageningen University & Research and a broad variety of other science institutes and start-ups.”

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Unilever reduces ice cream calories


ice-cream-01Unilever UK & Ireland has announced that, from spring this year, its entire adult single-serve ice cream range will contain 250 calories or fewer.

Under the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, the company says it is helping millions take action to improve their health and well-being. The move follows the introduction of 110kcal or fewer across the children’s ice cream range and with no change to recipes it will, the company says, mean that taste will be unaffected.

“We have introduced this 250 calorie cap to help make it easier for our consumers to make informed and healthier choices when enjoying their favourite ice creams as part of a balanced lifestyle,” said Noel Clarke, Brand Building Director for Ice Cream, Unilever UK & Ireland.

“It was important there be no compromise to taste or quality and that’s exactly what we’ve delivered. Our products will still taste as good as ever, but through a process of development and resizing we will ensure our entire single-serve ice cream portfolio will contain 250 calories or fewer.”

The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan was launched in 2010 with a goal to help more than 1 billion people take action to improve their health and well-being.

Unilever is a British-Dutch multinational consumer goods company co-headquartered in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and London, United Kingdom. Its products include food, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products.

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Unilever to Sell Frozen Meals Business in North America


Unilever has agreed to sell its North America frozen meals business to ConAgra Foods for a total cash consideration of $265 million (Eur216 million). Unilever’s North America frozen meals business consists of a full range of premium, multi-serve frozen entrees and appetizers under the well-known Bertolli and PF Chang’s brand names.

The transaction, subject to regulatory review, includes a license for the use of the Bertolli brand name and the transfer of Unilever’s existing license with PF Chang’s. It does not include Unilever’s facility in Owensboro in Kentucky, at which the Bertolli and PF Chang’s frozen meals are currently produced. Unilever will retain the Bertolli trademark and continue its existing pasta sauce business, with manufacturing operations remaining at its Kentucky facility.

Unilever’s decision to divest its North American frozen meals business is in line with its global strategy to exit the frozen foods business. Unilever previously divested its European frozen foods business.

In 2011, the combined Bertolli and PF Chang’s brands had turnover of approximately $300 million. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2012.

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Permira Considers Disposal of Birds Eye Iglo


Private equity firm Permira is considering the sale of its Birds Eye Iglo European branded frozen food business after receiving a number of approaches. Permira is reported to have appointed Credit Suisse to manage a sales process.

Birds Eye Iglo produces fish, vegetables, poultry and ready meals, including a number of iconic products such as fish fingers, schlemmer filets and sofficini. The Group operates under three brands: Birds Eye (UK and Ireland), iglo (Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and other countries) and Findus (Italy).

Birds Eye Iglo was acquired by a company backed by the Permira funds from Unilever in November 2006. In October 2010, the Findus Italy business was also acquired from Unilever. The Permira funds were early to identify Birds Eye Iglo as an attractive opportunity to transform a declining unit of a conglomerate to buildEurope’s largest frozen food platform with reinvigorated and sustainable top-line growth. Since acquisition, Birds Eye Iglo has delivered robust earnings growth through, for example, a strengthened management team and new product development to drive top-line growth.

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Food Volumes Down at Unilever


Unilever has reported a 1% increase in both operating profit and net profit to Eur6.43 billion and Eur4.62 billion respectively on turnover up 5% to Eur46.5 billion for 2011. Underlying sales growth was ahead by 6.5% with price up 4.8% and volume growth 1.6%. The rise in sales was driven by strong growth in emerging markets and the Home Care and Personal Care categories.

However, underlying volumes from the foods division declined by 3.9% in the fourth quarter and by 1.2% for the full year. Price increases were responsible for the 4.9% rise in turnover from the food business to Eur13.99 billion. The refreshment business, incorporating ice cream and beverages, achieved underlying sales growth of 4.9% to Eur8.80 billion with price rises contributing 3.4% and volume growth of 1.4% for the year.

Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever.

“In Foods, whilst price increases have impacted volumes, we have grown in line with our markets and gained share in many of our key businesses,” says Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever.

The group’s underlying operating margin fell by 10bps with a reduction in overheads offsetting much of the pressure on gross margins from higher commodity costs.

“In 2011 we have made significant progress in the transformation of Unilever to a sustainable growth company despite difficult markets and an unusual number of significant external challenges.” John Polman continues: “We expect the external macro-economic environment to remain difficult in 2012 and input cost headwinds will persist, although to a lesser extent than in 2011. Within this challenging context our over-riding priority is to manage our brands for the long term health of the business whilst delivering: profitable volume growth ahead of our markets, steady and sustainable core operating margin improvement and strong cash flow.”

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PepsiCo Extends $1 Billion Dollar Brands Portfolio


PepsiCo has expanding its portfolio of brands, which each generate more than $1 billion in annual retail sales, to 22 with the recent addition of Diet Mountain Dew, Brisk and Starbucks ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages. The US-based beverages and snacks giant has doubled the size of its billion-dollar brand portfolio since 2000, adding five new billion-dollar brands in the past five years.

First introduced in 1988, Diet Mountain Dew became the company’s eighth carbonated soft drink brand to reach the billion-dollar annual retail sales milestone. PepsiCo has manufactured and distributed Brisk and Starbucks RTD beverages through successful joint venture partnerships with Unilever and Starbucks, respectively, since the early 1990s.

Brisk is sold under the Pepsi Lipton Tea Partnership, a successful joint venture formed between PepsiCo and Unilever in 1991 focused on manufacturing and marketing ready-to-drink tea beverages. PepsiCo, through the Pepsi Lipton Tea Partnership, is the RTD tea category leader in several markets around the world, including the US and Western and Eastern Europe. 

PepsiCo and Starbucks largely created the North American RTD coffee category in 1994 when they formed the North American Coffee Partnership, a successful joint venture under which PepsiCo manufactures and distributes Starbucks RTD, single-serve coffee beverages.

The growth of Diet Mountain Dew, Brisk and Starbucks RTD beverages gives PepsiCo 14 billion-dollar beverage brands.

“Our ability to accelerate the growth of our billion-dollar brand portfolio with Diet Mountain Dew, Brisk and Starbucks reflects the success of our product marketing and innovation initiatives, the strength of our joint venture partnerships and the power of our distribution systems,” says Indra Nooyi, chairman and chief executive of PepsiCo. “We remain laser focused on continuing to strengthen and grow our entire global brand portfolio.”

PepsiCo also has eight billion-dollar food brands, the largest of which is Lay’s. The growth of the Lay’s portfolio has been driven by expansion in many international markets, including several key emerging economies like Russia, where Lay’s is getting ready to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

The company’s billion-dollar brand portfolio is comprised of: Aquafina, Brisk, Cheetos, Diet Mountain Dew, Diet Pepsi, Doritos, Fritos, Gatorade, Lay’s, Lipton, Mirinda, Mountain Dew, Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Ruffles, Quaker, 7UP (outside the US), Sierra Mist, Starbucks RTD beverages, Tostitos, Tropicana and Walkers.

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Barry Callebaut to Become Strategic Unilever Partner


Barry Callebaut, the cocoa and chocolate products manufacturer, and Unilever, the global market leader in ice cream, have signed a new long-term global partnership agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, Barry Callebaut will become Unilever’s strategic global supplier and innovation partner of choice for its cocoa and chocolate needs.

This new global supply agreement builds on the existing long-standing working relationship and will nearly double Barry Callebaut’s current volumes with Unilever. Ultimately Barry Callebaut will provide 70% of Unilever’s global cocoa and chocolate products. This will be achieved under a wide-ranging joint business development plan involving close co-operation across the areas of innovation, sustainable sourcing, capacity expansion and value improvement. The parties agreed not to disclose any further terms of the agreement.

As a result of the agreement, Barry Callebaut will invest approximately SFr22 million (Eur18 million) in its worldwide factory network in order to prepare the capacity required to fulfill the long-term partnership agreement. The additional volumes have a ramp-up period of 12 months, starting immediately.

Barry Callebaut has already been an active partner in developing one of Unilever’s most successful ice cream brands, Magnum, including supporting the launch of this iconic brand across various regions in the last year.

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Unilever Completes Acquisition of Ingman Ice Cream


Unilever has completed the acquisition of Ingman Ice Cream. The deal further strengthens Unilever’s competitive position in ice cream and is hghly complementary to Unilever’s existing portfolio of strong brands like Magnum, Cornetto and Carte d´Or.

 

Ingman Ice Cream employs around 700 people with production facilities in Sibbo (Finland), Ahus (Sweden), Mazeikiai (Lithuania) andGomel(Belarus). In 2010, Ingman Ice Cream brands generated annual sales of Eur70 million.

 

“Ingman Ice Cream brings a strong portfolio of locally produced iconic brands and a wide range of non-dairy, soy based and lactose free products which will have a perfect fit with Unilever as well as adding a unique local dimension to Unilever,” says Henri de Sauvage, chairman of Unilever Nordic.

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New Unilever Plant Sets Global Sustainability Standards


Unilever’s R670 million (Eur61 million), state-of-the-art savoury foods plant in Durban is setting new global standards in responsible and sustainable dry food production. It as one of the largest private investments in South Africa since the 2010 World Cup. The new plant is named Indonsa, meaning “Morning Star” in IsiZulu, and produces renowned brands such as Knorr, Robertson’s, Knorrox, Aromat and Rajah. It is in start-up phase and will be in full production by the first quarter of 2012.

 

The Indonsa plant has the ability to become the biggest dry food site in Unilever world-wide. It has been designed to produce 65 000 tonnes of product per year and has an expansion capability of up to 100 000 tonnes. The 22 000 square metre factory is equivalent to three soccer fields and is situated on 78 000 square metres of land.

 

Indonsa is a global first for the group in terms of advancing its focus on advanced sustainable ‘green’ technology. It is Unilever’s second largest plant in the world and its fifth plant in South Africa. Globally Unilever operates 250 plants selling about 170 billion products in 180 countries annually.

 

The global Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) and local chapter, aim to reduce the environmental impact of its entire products by 50%, source 100% of its agricultural raw materials sustainably, and assist a billion people to improve their wellbeing and general health. Indonsa is an example of the USLP delivered in practice.

 

“The advanced technology in operation at Indonsa sets new global standards in responsible and sustainable dry food production. It embodies our resolve to simultaneously improve the lives of people and to entrench respect for the environment,” says chairman for Unilever South Africa, Marijn van Tiggelen.

 

Unilever aims to globally reduce CO2 emissions from manufacturing and logistics by over 40% by 2020 from its 1995 baseline, at a rate of almost 5% a year.

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FrieslandCampina and Unilever Commence Sustainable Dairy Ingredients Project


FrieslandCampina and Unilever have joined forces in a project that will boost the availability of sustainable dairy ingredients. Key elements of this project are animal welfare, energy use, waste management and reduction of the carbon footprint. This year, a total of twelve farms operated by FrieslandCampina member farmers have been assessed against Unilever’s criteria and another 118 farms will be assessed before the end of March 2012. This will allow Unilever to buy sustainable dairy ingredients from FrieslandCampina before the end of next year.

 

Dirk-Jan de With, vice-president procurement global food ingredients of Unilever, explains: “We are always looking for ways of working with our suppliers to drive sustainability in our supply chain. Within the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan we are committed to source all our agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2020. As dairy is one of our top ten raw materials we are pleased to work together with FrieslandCampina on sustainable dairy.”

 

Independent auditor, Control Union, is supporting the technical process, gap analysis and assessments. Based on the outcome of the first assessments, Control Union has made recommendations and improvement plans in order to fully embed the Unilever Sustainable Agriculture Code. These recommendations will be incorporated during 2012. The farms included in the project will carry out a self assessment each year.

 

Roelof Joosten, executive director ingredients of Royal FrieslandCampina, says: “We are glad that at FrieslandCampina we are already able to fulfill the Unilever criteria on sustainability. This is an opportunity to reduce the total eco footprint in the entire production chain.”

 

FrieslandCampina announced in its corporate strategy, route2020, that it was aiming for climate-neutral growth between 2010 and 2020. To achieve this, it is working closely with the member farmers of its dairy co-operative to devise a standard for sustainable dairy farming.

 

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Unilever Sells North American Food Brands


Unilever has agreed to sell its Culver Specialty Brands division, in the US and Canada for $325 million (Eur230 million) in cash to B&G Foods. The business being sold includes Mrs Dash salt-free branded seasoning blends, Molly McButter branded flavoured sprinkles, Sugar Twin branded sugar substitute, Bakers Joy branded baking spray and Static Guard branded anti-static spray. B&G Foods manufactures a diversified portfolio of shelf-stable foods across the US, Canada and Puerto Rico. The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close this year.

 

Culver Specialty Brands, which came to Unilever with the acquisition of The Alberto Culver Company, generated revenue of approximately $90 million for the twelve months ending September 30th, 2011. Culver Specialty Brands products are manufactured at third-party facilities so no Unilever-owned plants are affected by this transaction. The deal is in line with Unilever’s continued focus on brands with global potential in core categories.

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Unilever Strengthens Russian Presence


Unilever is expanding its presence in Russia and enhancing its personal care portfolio with the acquisition of 82% of Concern Kalina, the leading Russian beauty company. The transaction, which is pending required regulatory approvals, values the equity of the total business at RUB21.5 billion (€500 million). Concern Kalina is Russia’s largest local personal care player with leading positions in skin and hair care and an expected 2011 turnover of around RUB13 billion (€303 million).

 

“This will transform Unilever’s personal care business inRussia, giving us leading positions in skin care and hair care, as well as establishing a presence in oral care. It will also strengthen and re-balance Unilever’s portfolio and competitive position in Russia, an emerging market with considerable potential and one of our priority countries,” comments Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever. “Organic growth remains the cornerstone of our ambition to double the size of Unilever whilst reducing our overall environmental impact. Acquisitions such as Concern Kalina supplement organic growth and add powerful new brands to our portfolio.”

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Unilever Expands Ice Cream Business


Unilever is acquiring Ingman Ice Cream from Finnish dairy firm Ingman for an undisclosed sum. With units in Sipoo in Finland, Aahus in Sweden, Mazeikia in Lithuania and Gomel in Belarus, Ingman Ice Cream employs about 700 people and achieved sales of Eur70 million last year. The deal is subject to competition authority approvals. Unilever expects the deal to be completed by the start of 2012.

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Unilever Continues to Expand in Emerging Markets


Unilever has unveiled expansion to production facilities in Indonesia that will help drive sustainable growth for the food and personal care group in the fast-growing developing and emerging markets. The company has invested about €90 million to build a new, state-of-the-art personal care factory and to expand existing ice cream and personal care factories to increase Unilever’s capacity for growth and service increasing demand for beauty products and ice cream in Indonesia and in other parts of Asia and Africa. These developments complement the additional capacity already being built in the Home Care and Foods categories in Indonesia this year and will better enable Unilever to deliver bigger and better innovation more quickly to consumers.

 

“These new facilities will help us to continue to grow in Indonesia, an important market in which we have strong category positions across our portfolio, as we do across South East Asia,” says Pier Luigi Sigismondi, Unilever’s chief supply chain officer. “These markets contribute significantly to the 54% that Unilever currently generates from emerging markets, a figure we expect to rise substantially over the next ten years. We are excited by the enormous possibilities these markets offer and more investments will undoubtedly follow.”

 

The current investment is part of a €550 million, three-year investment programme in Indonesia to enable Unilever to leverage its leading position in developing and emerging markets by enabling sustainable and profitable growth.

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Unilever Focuses on Emerging Markets


Unilever expects to generate more than 70% of group turnover from emerging markets by 2020, up from a current level of 55%. In face of sluggish growth in developed markets, Unilever has been investing heavily to expand its presence in emerging markets in Asia, Africa and Latin America, withBrazil,India,ChinaandTurkeyamong the group’s fastest growing markets.

 

“Europe and theUSwill be, for the next ten years, low-growth territories, I’m afraid. So, soon we will have 75% of our turnover in emerging markets – 70-75% by the end of decade,” says Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever. “This is also where the 2 billion more people will be born in the next 40 years, and obviously where most of the world growth is going to be.”

 

He adds: “We are growing by 10% or more now consistently in the emerging markets, and that’s a very healthy growth. We can continue to grow at a 4 to 6% range overall.”

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Unilever Sells Ragu and Chicken Tonight Brands to Symington’s


Unilever has sold its Ragu and Chicken Tonight sauce brands in theUKandIrelandto Symington’s, the Leeds-based convenience food company. Although the price of the deal was undisclosed, it is throught to have fallen short of the £30m to £40m originally anticipated by Unilever when it offered the business for sale last year following a strategic review.

 

The two brands have combined annual sales of about £20m in theUKandIreland. Unilever is retaining the two brands in markets other than theUKandIrelandbut will continue to manufacture products for these regions at its factory atOssin theNetherlandsfor at least three years. Symington’s has no wet sauces manufacturing capacity.

 

“It suits us because it gives us time to focus our resources on rejuvenating the brands,” says David Salkeld, chief executive of Symington’s. “We think these brands will benefit from some tender loving care, new product development, labelling, packaging, marketing and brand support. With a little bit of love and care we can bring these brands back to life and back to growth.”

 

The acquisition will increase Symington’s annual turnover to about £150m and strengthen its brands portfolio, which also includes Ainsley Harriott and Golden Wonder The Nation’s Noodle. Symington’s has more than doubled sales since management bought into the business alongside Bridgepoint Development Capital in September 2007.

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Unilever Reports Strong First Half Growth


According to Unilever, its development strategy is delivering results after the group reported strong growth in the first half of 2011. Turnover for the half-year was up 4.1% to Eur22.8b. Underlying sales growth was 7.1% in the second quarter and 5.7% in the first-half. Underlying volume growth was 1.9% in the second quarter and 2.2% in the first-half.

 

Underlying operating margin for the half-year was down 20 bps with the impact of high input cost inflation offset by pricing and savings. Stepped-up continuous improvement programmes generated efficiencies in advertising and promotions, leading to lower indirect costs.

 

Advertising and promotional spend, at around Eur3b, was higher than the second-half of 2010 but was down 150 bps against last year’s exceptionally high figure.

 

Commenting on the group’s strongest growth since the third quarter of 2008, chief executive Paul Polman says: “We are making encouraging progress in the transformation of Unilever to a sustainable growth company. Volumes were robust and in line with the market, despite having taken price increases. This shows the strength of our brands and innovations.” He adds: “More so than ever, in today’s volatile environment, our number one priority is to ensure that our brands are managed for the long-term health of the business.”

 

Unilever’s Home Care and Ice Cream & Beverages delivered underlying sales growth in the first-half of 6.7% and 6.4% respectively. Personal Care followed at 5.5% and Savoury, Dressings & Spreads at 5.0%.

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Unilever to Expand Hungarian Ice Cream Factory


Unilever is reported to be investing HUF2.2b (Eur8m) to increase production capacity at its ice cream factory at Veszprem in Hungary. The intention is to expand annual capacity from 75m litres to 90m litres during the next four years.

Unilever plans to build 7,500 sq m of cold stores and expand packaging facilities at the site. Unilever opened a 3,500 sq m expansion last year. The Veszprem factory produces the Algida brand of ice cream products and over 90% of output is exported to Western Europe.

Unilever, which also operates a food factory in the country, had revenues of over HUF70b in Hungary last year.

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Unilever Reorganisation Designed to Drive Growth


Unilever has announced changes to its category and go-to-market structure to further support its growth plans, especially in its fast-developing businesses in the emerging markets. The new structure is designed to facilitate a more efficient rollout of increasingly bigger and more scalable innovations, and the optimisation of resources behind strategic priorities.

“Unilever now has over half its turnover in the emerging markets, where, over the last 10 years, growth has been close to double digits. We have an opportunity to better support this footprint of the business, to keep our strong momentum, with a more globally aligned country and category organisation,” explains Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever.

As part of these changes Harish Manwani will be appointed as chief operating officer, with effect from 1 September, and will take responsibility for all markets, in order to drive speed-to-market behind further simplification and efficiency.

“Over the past few years we have seen a significant step-up in our innovation success rate and our speed to roll them out across markets. The new structure will further accelerate this,” adds Paul Polman.

Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever.

The Category organisation will be broadened to four categories reporting directly to Paul Polman.

Dave Lewis, currently president , Americas, will be appointed as president, Personal Care consisting of Skin, Deodorants, Oral and Hair.

Kevin Havelock, currently executive vice president Ice Cream, will be appointed as president of the newly established Refreshment category which includes ice cream and beverages.

Antoine de Saint Affrique, currently executive vice president Skin, will be appointed as president, Food which includes savoury, spreads and dressings.

In the Home Care category, Randy Quinn, currently executive vice president Laundry, and Sean Gogarty, senior vice president Household Care, will report directly to Paul Polman.

The new structures will be put in place during the third quarter and will be fully operational before year-end.

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Fifth Consecutive Quarter of Growth at Unilever


Food, personal care and home care group Unilever has delivered its fifth consecutive quarter of growth as its transformation strategy continues. Turnover in the first quarter increased by 7% to Eur10.9b as underlying sales rose by of 4.3% with all categories growing, driven by emerging markets up 9.9%. Underlying volume growth was 2.5% and pricing was up 1.8%.

Reflecting another good performance in the emerging markets, revenue in ice cream and beverages during the quarter was Eur1.94b with underlying sales growth of 4.7%. The Magnum brand is continuing to grow rapidly, fuelled by the launches in the US and Indonesia. Cornetto is also doing well, particularly in Asia with a strong performance in China.

Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever.

Tea grew on the back of a strong performance in South Asia, good share gains in the UK and the early success of the Lipton pyramid Green and White teas in Western Europe and Russia. AdeS soy drinks continue to deliver rapid growth in Latin America supported by new flavours, packaging and communication.

Underlying sales in savoury, dressings and spreads rose by 2.1% to Eur3.38b as all the sub-categories delivered sales growth on the back of strong innovations and increasing price. Savoury growth was driven by Knorr jelly bouillon and Knorr baking bags, successfully launched in Brazil and growing well in Europe. The mild winter held back sales of soups in Europe whilst PF Chang’s restaurant quality frozen meals are doing well in the US.

Dressings grew through the successful campaign to inspire new uses of mayonnaise. Rising commodity costs, especially in spreads, required higher pricing which led to negative volumes in the quarter. However, Unilever has a strong programme of innovation, for example the launch of Flora Cuisine liquid margarine in the UK, with more to come as the quality and taste of the group’s products are improved.

“We have delivered a good performance which demonstrates that the transformation of Unilever is progressing well; this against a backdrop of rising commodity costs, weak consumer confidence and very competitive markets. All categories are growing, driven by a particularly strong performance in the emerging markets. We have continued to deliver volume growth, albeit at a lower rate than in recent quarters reflecting the pricing action taken and the sluggishness of the developed markets. Innovation continues to be the key driver of growth,” comments Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever. “We continue to focus on the long term development of the business and our priorities remain: profitable volume growth ahead of our markets, steady and sustainable underlying operating margin improvement and strong cash flow.”

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Strong Growth as Unilever’s Transformation Progresses


Despite intense competition, weak consumer confidence in many markets and the impact of rising commodities costs in the second half, Unilever has delivered a strong financial performance in 2010 as it continued with its transformation strategy. Whilst markets showed little or no growth in the developed economies, emerging market growth remained healthy.

Turnover rose 11.1% (3.6% at constant currency rates) to Eur44.3b and underlying operating profit advanced 12% to Eur6.6b. Profit before tax was up 25% (18% at constant currency) to Eur6.1b and net profit rose 26% to Eur4.6b. Underlying volume growth was 5.8% while underlying sales growth was 4.1%.

Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever.

“We are pleased with another year of good results in which we delivered against all our key priorities and further progressed the transformation of Unilever. We delivered strong volume growth, particularly in emerging markets which continued to be the engine of growth. We gained volume share in all regions driven by stronger innovations, significant increases in marketing investment and the extension of our brands into new territories,” says Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever.

He continues: “The Unilever of today is more agile and confident, now fully fit to compete. We remain focused on serving our consumers and customers and building the long term health of our brands. Despite the intense competition and the return of commodity cost volatility, our objectives remain: profitable volume growth ahead of our markets, steady and sustainable underlying operating margin improvement and strong cash flow.”

Despite difficult markets in Western Europe Unilever delivered volume growth and improved volume share in the year, with positive volume growth in the fourth quarter. Underlying price continued to improve but was still negative year-on-year reflecting the high levels of promotional intensity in many markets. Conditions in Southern Europe remain particularly challenging. Northern Europe is more robust and Unilever saw strong performances in the UK and France. Underlying operating margin was up in the year, reflecting the benefits of cost saving programmes and lower advertising and promotions.

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Unilever’s Dutch Ice Cream Factory to Derive Green Energy from Wastewater With Installation From Paques


Unilever and Paques, the water and gas purification specialist, have started the construction of a bio-digester at the food group’s Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Hellendoorn, the Netherlands. In the bio-digestion process, waste products that are released during the production of ice cream are converted into energy.

A 3D artist impression of the installation.

The bio-digester from Paques will cover 40% of the ice cream factory’s green energy requirements. In addition, building the bio-digester fits in perfectly with the further implementation of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan aimed at reducing the production of waste and the consumption of water and energy. The bio-digester is expected to become operational mid 2011.

After a successful test period, Unilever has opted for a new type of bio-digester from Paques, the BIOPAQ®AFR, in which natural micro-organisms (in this case more than 24 billiard (24·1015) little bugs) ‘eat‘ waste products and convert them into biogas. In this system, wastewater is purified by converting waste products from ice cream production such as milk, cream, proteins, syrups and pieces of fruit into biogas.

The BIOPAQ®AFR is an innovation in the field of purification of fat-containing wastewater. What is unique about it is that wastewater streams that contain fat and oil are treated/digested in one compact reactor, together with degradable particles, whereas in conventional systems this is only possible by going through a number of processing stages.

The construction of the bio-digester started in autumn 2010. Unilever is one of the fist companies worldwide with such a bio-digester.

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Unilever Unveils Ambitious Sustainability Plan


Unilever has announced plans to decouple its future growth from environmental impact. The food and consumer goods giant has pledged to halve the environmental footprint of its products; help 1 billion people to take action to improve their health and wellbeing, mostly in developing countries, over the next 10 years; and to source 100% of its agricultural raw materials sustainably.

“We have ambitious plans to grow the company. But growth at any price is not viable. We have to develop new ways of doing business which will ensure that our growth does not come at the expense of the world’s diminishing natural resources,” explains Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever.

Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan sets out over 50 social, economic and environmental targets. It will see Unilever, whose global brands include Dove, Omo, Knorr and Lipton, halve the greenhouse gas emissions, water and waste used not just by the company in its direct operations, but also by its suppliers and consumers.

Over two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions and half the water used in Unilever products’ lifecycle come from consumer use, so this is a major commitment on an unprecedented scale.

Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever.

“People tell us they want to reduce their environmental impact but find it hard to change their behaviour and don’t know how they can make a difference,” says Paul Polman. “By halving the total carbon, water and waste impact of our products, primarily through innovation in the way we source, make and package them, we can help people make a small difference every time they use them. As our products are used 2 billion times a day in nearly every country in the world, our consumers’ small actions add up to make a big difference.”

Other key goals Unilever plans to achieve by or before 2020 include:

* sourcing 100% of its agricultural raw materials sustainably including, by 2015, 100% sustainable palm oil;

* changing the hygiene habits of 1 billion people in Asia, Africa and Latin America so that they wash their hands with Lifebuoy soap at key times during the day – helping to reduce diarrhoeal disease, the world’s second biggest cause of infant mortality;

* making safe drinking water available to half a billion people by extending sales of its low-cost in-home water purifier, Pureit, from India to other countries;

* improving livelihoods in developing countries by working with Oxfam, Rainforest Alliance and others to link over 500,000 smallholder farmers and small-scale distributors into its supply chain.

Paul Polman sees no conflict between Unilever achieving its sustainability goals and growing its business. “We are already finding that tackling sustainability challenges provides new opportunities for sustainable growth: it creates preference for our brands, builds business with our retail customers, drives our innovation, grows our markets and, in many cases, generates cost savings.”

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Unilever to Sell UK Ambient Sauce Brands


Unilever is reported to be seeking to dispose of its Ragu and Chicken Tonight ambient sauce brands in the UK and Ireland to trade or private equity buyers. The move follows a regular review of the brands’ market performances.

The combined brands could attract bids worth up to £40m. Unilever will retain the Ragu brand business outside the UK and Ireland. Unilever gained the two Knorr sauce brands following its merger with US-based Bestfoods in 2000.

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Unilever Acquires Greek Ice Cream Brands


Unilever is acquiring EVGA’s Greek ice cream brands (including Scandal, Variete and Karabola) and distribution network for an undisclosed amount. EVGA, which helped pioneer the Greek ice cream industry, will retain its existing production and warehousing facilities and will manufacture both the current EVGA and some of Unilever ice cream branded products for the Greek market and for export. EVGA’s ice cream turnover in 2009 was Eur32m.

As part of the agreement, approximately 65 employees will transfer to Unilever. The agreement is subject to regulatory approval by the Greek competition authorities.

The deal will strengthen Unilever’s Greek ice cream portfolio and will increase availability of its products to consumers through the expansion of the distribution network and enhanced innovation.

Recent Unilever investments in Greece include the 100% acquisition of ELAIS in 2006, the expansion of its manufacturing capabilities in Rentis and the construction of a warehousing and distribution center in Schimatari.

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Unilever Strengthens Personal Care Business With $3.7b Acquisition


Unilever is strengthening its personal care business by acquiring US-based Alberto Culver Company for $3.7b in cash. Alberto Culver generated sales approaching $1.6b and EBITDA of over $250m for the year ending June 30th 2010. The acquisition makes Unilever the world’s leading company in hair conditioning, the second largest in shampoo and the third largest in styling, and significantly enhances its hair care presence in the US, Canada, the UK, Mexico and Australasia.

“Personal Care is a strategic category for Unilever and growing rapidly. Ten years ago it represented 20% of our turnover; strong organic growth has driven it to now reach over 30%, with strong positions in many of the emerging markets,” explains Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever. “Organic growth remains the cornerstone of our energising ambition to double the size of Unilever whilst reducing our overall environmental impact. Bolt-on acquisitions such as Alberto Culver supplement organic growth and add powerful new brands to our portfolio.”

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Unilever Acquires Danish Ice Cream Business From TINE


Unilever is acquiring Diplom-Is, a Danish ice cream business, from TINE, the Norwegian dairy group, for an undisclosed price. Employing 30 people, Diplom-IS operates five local distribution centers in Denmark. TINE also owns and operates Diplom-Is in Norway and Sweden, which it is retaining.

Unilever is one of the leading players in the Danish ice cream market with a brand portfolio of well known brands such as Magnum, Cornetto and Carte d’Or. The food giant can trace its ice cream/frisko history in the country back to 1930.

“The acquisition enables Unilever to further strengthen its position in the Danish ice cream market. Diplom-Is has a strong position in the out-of-home segment such as amusement parks and ice cream bars, allowing Unilever to provide even greater offerings to customers and consumers,” says Jens Voldmester, country lead, Unilever Denmark.

Unilever recently disposed of its Italian frozen food business, Findus Italy, to Birds Eye Iglo, which is owned by private equity group Permira, for Eur805m.

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Milk Link to Launch I Can’t Believe It’s Not Cheddar in the UK


UK dairy co-operative Milk Link is planning to launch I Can’t Believe It’s Not Cheddar, a new cheese product that contains 30% less fat than standard Cheddar, early next year. The new product will be produced by Milk Link under licence from Unilever, which also owns the popular I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter brand. Launched in the UK in 1991, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter now has annual retail sales of £55.4m.

The launch by Milk Link is expected to heighten competition in the UK low fat cheese market, especially within the lighter Cheddar category.

According to Hamish Renton, marketing and innovation director at Milk Link, lighter cheese could very rapidly grow to represent 10% of the total Cheddar category. Milk Link, which will initially produce 1,000 tonnes of the new product, plans to support the January launch of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Cheddar with a full media campaign.

Milk Link is a vertically integrated dairy co-operative and is the largest producer of British cheeses.

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Unilever Predicts Continued Slow Economic Growth


Unilever has reported a 35% increase in net profit to Eur2.21b on turnover ahead by 9.7% to Eur21.89b with underlying sales growth of 3.8% for the first half of 2010. Group operating profit rose by 20% to Eur3.07b.

Although prices were down by 2.6% during the first half, this was offset by underlying volume growth of 6.6%. The underlying operating margin advanced 30bps with continuing strong gross margins offset by significant investment in advertising and promotional expenditure, up 180bps.

Market growth in developed economies remains depressed whilst emerging market growth remains strong. Within its Western European region, markets were difficult, particularly in southern European countries such as Greece, Spain and, to a lesser extent, Italy.

Paul Pulman, chief executive of Unilever.

Unilever’s global ice cream and beverages business increased underlying sales growth by 5.1% in the first half while savoury, dressings and spreads grew at a less impressive 0.3%.

“We continue to operate under the assumption of slow economic growth, particularly in developed markets where consumer confidence remains fragile. We do not expect competitive pressures to ease and our ability to increase prices will remain constrained despite rising commodity costs in the second half. We still expect underlying price growth to turn positive towards the end of the year,” says Paul Pulman, chief executive of Unilever. “Notwithstanding this difficult environment and comparators which get tougher as the year progresses, the results confirm again that our strategy to focus on the consumer and to accelerate growth is working. Our priority remains to drive profitable volume growth and strong cash flow along with steady and sustainable improvement in operating margin for the year as a whole.”

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Cargill Supports Unilever’s Drive to Use Sustainable Palm Oil


Cargill has entered into a supply agreement to provide Unilever’s European operations with 10,000 metric tonnes of segregated refined palm oil, certified by the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). This means that the oil will have been certified as sustainable, having been segregated at every step in the supply chain. Cargill’s new offering will strengthen its ability to provide sustainable palm oil products to meet customers’ requirements and will complement its existing certified RSPO Mass Balance palm oil offering.

“Our agreement with Unilever is the result of both companies’ strong commitment to supporting responsible supply chains,” says Paul Naar, head of Cargill’s food business in Europe. “As the demand for certified sustainable palm oil continues to grow, we are combining our supply chain expertise and industry knowledge to provide customers with choices to meet their particular requirements. We are very pleased to partner with Unilever and see this as a big step forward in the drive towards palm oil sustainability.”

“Unilever is ahead of plan to achieving 100 percent sustainable palm oil by 2015 with over 35 percent already being RSPO certified this year,” points out Marc Engel, chief procurement officer at Unilever. “We are very pleased that Cargill, as one of our strategic partners, is sharing our vision on sustainable palm oil and enabling this for us.”

Cargill’s offering of fully segregated refined palm oil follows the RSPO certification of the company’s European and Malaysian oil refineries. PT. Hindoli in Sumatra, Indonesia received its RSPO certification in February 2009 and Cargill is currently working to certify its other palm plantation in Indonesia, Harapan Sawit Lestari.

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Unilever Sells Findus Italy to Birds Eye Iglo for €805m


Unilever is selling its Italian frozen food business, Findus Italy, to Birds Eye Iglo, which is owned by private equity group Permira, for Eur805m. The deal includes four brands – Salti in Padella, Sofficini, Capitan Findus and That’s Amore – along with a factory in Cisterna, Italy. Findus Italy employs 650 people and had annual sales of Eur462m in 2009. The purchase price is between nine and 10 times Findus Italy’s EBITDA. The transaction is subject to approval by the EU competition authorities.

Permira acquired Bird Eye Igloo, Unilever’s frozen food business with the exception of Findus Italy, for Eur1.7b in 2006. Birds Eye Igloo beat rival the Findus Group, which includes the Young’s frozen seafood business in the UK and is owned by private equity firm Lion Capital, to secure the acquisition of Findus Italy.

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Unilever Commits to Sustainable Sourcing of Paper Packaging


As part of its sustainability commitment to double the size of its business while reducing its environmental impact, Unilever has announced that it will work with its suppliers to source 75% of its paper and board packaging from sustainably managed forests or from recycled material by 2015, rising to 100% by 2020. The move makes Unilever the first global FMCG company to commit to sourcing all of its paper and board packaging from sustainably managed forests or recycled material within a clearly defined timeframe.

For the company’s requirements for paper from virgin sources, preference will be given to supplies delivered through the Forest Stewardship Council certification scheme. Unilever will also accept other national schemes under the framework of international Forest Management Certification standards.

This means that the logos of the acceptable forest management certification schemes will begin to appear on the packaging of Unilever’s portfolio of brands as progress is made towards reaching the target, and in order to increase consumer awareness and promote the expansion of certified forests in the world.

“As a leading consumer goods company, we buy considerable quantities of paper and board for packaging to ensure our products are protected and transported safely. As such it is important that we promote sustainable forestry practices and help combat deforestation and climate change through the responsible sourcing of these materials,” explains Marc Engel, Unilever’s chief procurement officer.

Unilever is a founding member of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, which has over 160 members, including packaging users, producers and retailers. Unilever is also a member of EUROPEN (the European Organisation for Packaging and the Environment), and the Consumer Goods Forum’s Global Packaging Project.

Since 1995, Unilever has reduced its total waste (kg/tonne of production) by 73%.

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