UK – British multinational consumer goods giant Unilever has recorded underlying sales growth of 2.5% in its third-quarter results amid rising material costs and continued impact of covid-19 on sales in various markets. 

The owner of Ben & Jerry’s and Magnum ice cream reported turnover of €13.5 billion (US$15.71 billion) in Q3, an increase of 4% on the previous year.  

In Unilever’s third quarter, the company’s foods and refreshment unit expanded its underlying sales by 3% and recorded a turnover of €5.1 billion, ahead of beauty and personal care (up 2.6%) and home care (up 1.4%). 

Underlying sales expanded across Unilever’s Asia/AMET/RUB, Americas, and Europe sectors in its third quarter, by 2.3%, 4.4%, and 0.3%. 

The Southeast Asian markets however declined in Q3 due to the imposition of Covid-19 restrictions following high case rates. 

In Europe, Italy saw growth in part driven by its performance in ice cream after a decline the previous year, while the Netherlands also grew, with foods delivering mid-single-digit growth. 

Meanwhile, the Americas saw Mexico and Argentina grow both price and volume. North America saw a decline in volumes in comparison with the high demand for in-home food products the prior year. 

In the US, the company’s food solutions and functional nutrition businesses both contributed to growth, while in-home food and ice cream declined. 

Out-of-home ice cream grew in Asia and Europe as countries re-opened, although turnover in Europe has not yet been restored to 2019 levels.  

Comparatively, in-home ice cream declined, as the company lapped strong growth in the year-ago period. 

Meanwhile, the demand for in-home food has remained strong but sales were slightly down due to strong growth in the year-ago period.  

Unilever CEO, Alan Jope, said: “We have delivered a good quarter against strong comparators, with underlying sales growth of 2.5%”.  

“The combination of our strategic choices and focus on operational excellence continue to drive competitive growth. Underlying sales growth is now at 4.4% for the year to date and we are confident that we will be well within our multiyear framework of 3-5% for the full year”.  

Following a strategic review announced last year, Unilever announced that it has completed the operational separation of its tea business.  

The company is now “focused on the next stage” for the business which is expected to be either an IPO, sale or partnership. 

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