Unilever’s Sustainable Living brands continue to drive higher rates of growth

Six years into its ambitious Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, the company today announced its progress in building its ‘Sustainable Living brands’ as they drive value and growth for the business.

  • Sustainable Living brands grew over 50% faster than the rest of the business
  • Delivered more than 60% of Unilever’s growth in 2016
  • 18 Sustainable Living brands in the top 40 Unilever brands, up from 12 in 2015
  • Continued consumer demand driving brands with purpose
While many continue to join Unilever in efforts to build brands with purpose and sustainability at their core, Unilever’s Sustainable Living brands delivered over 60% of the company’s total growth, up from 46% last year, and grew more than 50% faster than the rest of the business in 2016.All of Unilever’s brands are on a journey towards reducing their environmental footprint and increasing their positive social impact. Sustainable Living brands are those that are furthest ahead – they combine a strong social or environmental purpose, with products which contribute to achieving the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan goals.These findings were shared with leaders from industry, government and academia gathered at Unilever’s London headquarters, to review progress on the sixth year of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.

Unilever’s brands continue to lead the way on sustainable living, such as Lifebuoy, Ben & Jerry’s, Dove and Hellmann’s, achieving above average growth, with high single and double digit sales over the past six years. Brands such as Axe, Brooke Bond tea and Surf also join the growing list of Unilever’s Sustainable Living brands with purpose at their core.

Paul Polman, Unilever CEO, said: “We have made great progress. Our results show that sustainability is good for business, with increasing evidence that our ‘sustainable living brands’ do better.

“There is no doubt that the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan is making us more competitive by helping us to build our brands and spur innovation, strengthen our supply chain and reduce our risks, lower our costs, and build trust in our business. It is helping Unilever to serve society and our many consumers, and in doing so, create value for shareholders.

“By continuing to work with others, we hope to mobilise a new kind of growth, one that taps into the economic opportunities that the Sustainable Development Goals present.”

As part of the efforts to scale up and progress its commitments on sustainable living, Unilever commissioned consumer research to help gain a better understanding of some of the issues that are driving people’s purchasing habits and behaviour. The research showed that over half of all consumers already buy or want to buy sustainably. One in three (33%) already purchase products with sustainability in mind, and a further 21% do not currently but would like to.

A new entrant to the Sustainable Living brands’ list is Sunlight, part of Unilever’s global Surf brand. Sunlight has made a big impact in South Africa with its new handwashing laundry powder, which uses ground-breaking SmartFoam technology to break down suds faster. In drought-affected South Africa, where women still do the majority of laundry by hand, halving the number of rinses required to wash laundry has made a real difference by liberating women’s time as well as saving water – delivering a 2.6% increase in market share in 2016.

The Company confirmed that it is on track to meet most of the 50+ targets set out in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. It announced it had avoided costs of over €700million through eco-efficiency measures in its factories since 2008, of which its waste programme had contributed to cost avoidance of around €250million. At the same time, Unilever has reduced risk exposure by increasing use of renewable energy in its manufacturing sites to 31.6%, and continuing to source over 50% of its agricultural raw materials sustainably by end 2016.

Unilever is committed to working to bring about transformational change throughout the whole value chain and to developing further its portfolio of Sustainable Living brands in a way that meets the needs of consumers. A detailed report on the progress made against the targets set out in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan and Unilever’s approach to transformational change is available online.





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