Unilever Sustainable Living Plan helping to drive growth

London/ Rotterdam, 22 April 2013 - Unilever’s commitment to put sustainable and equitable growth at the heart of its business model is helping to drive increased sales while reducing costs and risks, according to the second Unilever Sustainable Living Plan Progress Report published today.

Growing for the future

A farmer shows tomatoes grown in a drip irrigation system in Brazil where we are moving from pivot to drip irrigation, which reduces water use by up to 20%, produces up to 30% higher yields and reduces the amount of fungicide needed by around 30%.

Growing for the future

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Brands that have made sustainability central to their brand proposition or product innovation have accelerated sales during 2012:

  • Lifebuoy soap, which has increased its handwashing education programmes, has seen double digit growth in each of the last three years;

  • Dry shampoos such as TRESemmé and Dove, which result in 90% less greenhouse gas emissions compared to washing hair in heated water, grew by nearly 20% in 2012; and

  • Calorie-controlled Max and Paddle Pop children’s ice creams grew high double digit in 2012.

Unilever is also accelerating the integration of sustainability into the heart of many of its biggest brands. For example Dove(Link opens in a new window), its largest personal care brand with sales of over €3 billion, redesigned its self esteem programme for young people in 2012 to further strengthen its engagement with consumers by helping them look and feel their best. Another example comes from Unilever’s biggest brand, Knorr, which launched its first product with a ‘sustainably grown’ label on pack, with more to come.

At the same time, eco-efficiencies in Unilever factories from reducing energy, water, materials and waste have enabled the company to take over €300 million out of the system since 2008. The companyvicious-circle-161x160 has also reduced risk at a time of volatility in food commodity prices by increasing its purchases of agricultural raw materials from sustainable sources from 14% in 2010 to 36% in 2012.

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever: “Sustainability is contributing to our virtuous circle of growth. The more our products meet social needs and help people live sustainably, the more popular our brands become and the more we grow. And the more efficient we are at managing resources such as energy and raw materials, the more we lower our costs and reduce the risks to our business and the more we are able to invest in sustainable innovation and brands.”

Unilever Sustainable Living Plan 2nd Year Progress

In 2010 Unilever set three big goals, all to be achieved by 2020:

1) Help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being;
2) Source 100% of agricultural raw materials sustainably;
3) Halve the environmental footprint of its products across the value chain.

Two years in to its ten-year Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever reports solid progress on two of its three big goals.

Help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being

The company has reached 224 million people with programmes to reduce diarrhoeal disease through handwashing with soap, provide safe drinking water, promote oral health and improve young people’s self-esteem. Lifebuoy soap reached 71 million people in 16 countries in 2012 – five times as many people as in 2010.

Source 100% of agricultural raw materials sustainably

Unilever now buys over a third (36%) of its agricultural raw materials from sustainable sources, with particular progress in palm oil, sugar, cocoa, vegetables and sunflower oil. We have also now helped to train 450,000 tea farmers in sustainable practices, of whom over 300,000 have achieved Rainforest Alliance certification.

Halve the environmental footprint of its products across the value chain

Unilever is making good progress in areas it can control. Between 2008-2012 greenhouse gas emissions from energy in manufacturing have been cut by nearly a third and manufacturing waste has halved. Over half of Unilever's 252 manufacturing sites around the world now send zero non-hazardous waste to landfill, and the company has set itself a new target of extending this to all its factories by 2015. However, its own manufacturing impacts account for only a small part of the total environmental footprint of Unilever’s products in the total value chain – just 4% of its greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint for example. The majority of Unilever’s product footprint is in the sourcing of raw materials (25% of its GHG footprint) and in the way consumers cook, clean and wash with the products (68% of its GHG footprint). One of our biggest challenges remains how we encourage our consumers to use our products more sustainably at home.

Looking ahead

Although there is considerable progress, the company also faces challenges which it cannot solve alone. To reach its goals and achieve large scale change, Unilever believes even more collaboration is needed between companies, governments, NGOs and consumers. Among the areas where the company would welcome more cross-sector collaboration are: reducing and eliminating deforestation associated with soy, palm oil, beef, pulp and paper by 2020; integrating hygiene behaviour change into national health policies and education curricula; linking more smallholder farmers into food supply chains; and building infrastructure to promote waste recycling and recovery.

Helping consumers change their behaviour to live more sustainably is also key. In the absence of major framework changes by governments, the company is tackling this in a number of ways, from driving habit change through packaging solutions, such as single dose laundry detergent capsules which make it easier for consumers to dose accurately, to working with others such as retailers and civil society organisations to encourage shoppers to make sustainable choices at the supermarket and in the home. In addition, Unilever is leveraging its scale and reach to work with its many suppliers across the value chain to instil sustainable practices.

Paul Polman said: “The world continues to face big challenges. The lack of access of many to food, nutrition, basic hygiene and sanitation, clean drinking water or a decent job should be a concern to all of us. We firmly believe business has a big role to play in striving for more equitable and sustainable growth, but large-scale change will only come about if there is real collaboration between companies, governments and NGOs across all these areas.”


ENDS

More information please contact:

Unilever
Flip Dötsch
Flip.Dotsch@unilever.com
+31 (0) 10 217 3715
+31 (0) 6 11375464

Safe harbour

This announcement may contain forward-looking statements, including 'forward-looking statements' within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as 'will', 'aim', 'expects', 'anticipates', 'intends', 'believes', 'vision', or the negative of these terms and other similar expressions of future performance or results, and their negatives, are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based upon current expectations and assumptions regarding anticipated developments and other factors affecting the Group. They are not historical facts, nor are they guarantees of future performance.

Because these forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, there are important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Among other risks and uncertainties, the material or principal factors which could cause actual results to differ materially are; Unilever's global brands not meeting consumer preferences; increasing competitive pressures; Unilever's investment choices in its portfolio management; finding sustainable solutions to support long-term growth; customer relationships; the recruitment and retention of talented employees; disruptions in our supply chain; the cost of raw materials and commodities; secure and reliable IT infrastructure; successful execution of acquisitions, divestitures and business transformation projects; economic and political risks and national disasters; the sovereign debt crisis in Europe; financial risks; and failure to meet high product safety and ethical standards; managing regulatory, tax and legal matters. Further details of potential risks and uncertainties affecting the Group are described in the Group's filings with the London Stock Exchange, Euronext Amsterdam and the US Securities and Exchange Commission, including the Group's Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended 31 December 2011 and the Annual Report and Accounts 2011. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this announcement. Except as required by any applicable law or regulation, the Group expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect any change in the Group's expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based.

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