Unilever’s Sustainable Living Brands Delivered 70% of Turnover Growth in 2017

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Unilever has today revealed its fourth consecutive year of growth for its ‘sustainable living’ brands, which delivered 70 percent of its turnover growth and grew 46 percent faster (a slightly slower rate than last year, when it was over 50 percent). then the rest of the business. The company says all of its brands are working to reduce their environmental footprint and increase their positive social impact; the ‘sustainable living’ brands are those that are furthest ahead on the journey.

Figures revealed today show that:

  • Unilever now has 26 sustainable living brands (up from 18 in 2016). New entrants include household names such as VaselineSunlightSunsilk and Wall’s.
  • The list also includes Unilever’s top six brands — DoveLiptonDirt Is GoodRexonaHellmann’s and Knorr — and its B-Corp certified brands such as Ben and Jerry’sSeventh Generation and Pukka Herbs.
  • Over the last four years, sustainable living brands have outperformed the average rate of growth at Unilever. In 2017, these brands grew 46 percent faster than the rest of the business and delivered 70 percent of Unilever’s turnover growth.

The figures show that Unilever is now delivering more social and environmental benefits in more parts of the world through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP). The USLP was launched in 2010 — setting ambitious targets to decouple Unilever’s growth from its environmental impact while increasing the company’s positive social impact. Today, Unilever is on track to meet around 80 percent of its commitments, which include improving health and wellbeing for 1 billion people, reducing environmental impact by half and enhancing livelihoods for its millions of employees, suppliers, and retailers.

Now officially Unilever’s biggest brand — and one of the oldest sustainable living brands — Dove has reached 29 million people with its Self-Esteem project and has partnered with The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts since 2013 to develop and deliver quality self-esteem education for girls around the world. | Image credit: Dove

The company announced it is now looking beyond its ULSP targets by carrying out its largest-ever listening exercise on the future of sustainable business. Over 40,000 employees responded to the ‘Have Your Say’ project, setting out their views on the priorities that they would like Unilever to focus on and what future success would look like. The results will be used to co-create Unilever’s future agenda.


CEO Paul Polman said: “Ever since we launched the USLP in 2010, we have reported openly on our progress. We have made great strides in meeting many of the ambitious targets we set ourselves and the fact that our sustainable living brands are continuing to deliver growth shows that this is a business model that works.

“We also want to be transparent about how much more there is still to do. This is critical because transparency is what gives our business its most important asset – trust. At a time when there is a crisis of trust in many institutions across the world, there has never been a more important time for business to play a leading role in restoring it.”

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More detail on the progress of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan can be found online. Highlights from 2017 include:

  • 601 million people have been reached through Unilever’s programmes on handwashing, sanitation, oral health, self-esteem and safe drinking water. Lifebuoy soap alone has reached over 426 million people with its handwashing programme;
  • 109 of Unilever’s manufacturing sites across 36 countries are now using 100 percent renewable grid electricity, accounting for 65 percent of total grid electricity consumption;
  • 56 percent of Unilever’s agricultural raw materials are now sustainably sourced. In February this year, Unilever became the first company to publicly disclose the suppliers and mills from which it sources palm oil both directly and indirectly;
  • Unilever enabled roughly 716,000 smallholder farmers to access initiatives aiming to improve their agricultural practices or increase their incomes.
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Other notable progress:

  • Domestos is one of Unilever’s core global Home Care brands, sold in 35 countries, and with a goal to help 25 million people gain improved access to a toilet by 2020. To date, Domestos has improved access to a toilet for 10 million people. In the last year, Domestos has launched a new and affordable toilet cleaning powder format in India, and brought a new ‘Flush Less’ spray to market in South Africa, in response to the water shortages affecting the area.
  • Dove is now officially Unilever’s biggest brand — and one of the oldest sustainable living brands — with its focus on driving body confidence. Today, Dove has reached 29 million people with its Self-Esteem project and has partnered with The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts since 2013 to develop and deliver quality self-esteem education. There is compelling evidence that those who have been touched by the Self Esteem programme have a higher purchase intention.
  • Unilever launched two new beauty and personal care brands in 2017, both developed in just under a year, targeting the growing number of consumers seeking more natural, responsible personal care products: Six base ingredients, four fragrances, and a technique called phytoextraction are the building blocks for ApotheCARE Essentials’ 18 naturally derived products. And the more widely released Love Beauty and Planet were formulated without parabens, silicones or dyes; with cruelty-free, vegan and ethically sourced fragrance ingredients; with a pioneering “fast rinse” technology allowing consumers to shave time off their shower, saving water and energy; and packaged in 100 percent recyclable packaging.
  • In March, PG Tips — the UK’s most popular tea brand — introduced fully biodegradable tea bags. By the end of 2018, Unilever is aiming for every tea bag in the PG Tips range to use the new plant-based material, significantly improving its environmental impact without affecting flavor.

Credits: Sustainablebrands

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