Two more of our factories – in Tianjin, China and Indaiatuba, Brazil – have been awarded Lighthouse status by the World Economic Forum. This recognises how they are integrating the latest technologies to increase productivity and efficiency, and take care of the environment.
On 22 September 2023, President Marcos of the Philippines inaugurated one of Unilever’s largest Beauty & Wellbeing and Personal Care (BWPC) factories in South-East Asia.
Unilever has invested PHP4.7 billion (€80 million) in the state-of-the-art facility which is set to ramp up production of the country’s market-leading haircare products from Sunsilk and Creamsilk, and deodorant lines from Rexona and Dove by 15%.
A growing marketplace that is getting bigger
“Our investment in the new factory is anchored in our purpose to meet the needs of consumers and our customers,” says Unilever Philippines Chairman and CEO Benjie Yap.
“Emerging markets contribute 59% to Unilever’s global turnover and the Philippines remains an important market and growth driver for the company,” he adds.
The country is currently one of Unilever’s top-ranking markets in the world. And demand for beauty and personal care products has seen consistent growth.
Unilever ranks fifth in terms of value growth according to a June 2023 consumer study on FMCG manufacturers in the Philippines. In terms of production, 90% of what Unilever Philippines sells is manufactured locally as compared to other FMCGs who have opted to import.
Working with local suppliers in this way is not only good for shortening Unilever’s supply chains, it also reduces emissions and invigorates the local supplier base by creating direct and indirect employment opportunities across the value chain.
The new site will work to leverage these benefits further. Its relocation to Cavite is part of a growing countryside industrial development, bringing it closer to key suppliers and its own distribution centre.
The move will speed delivery of raw materials and further reduce miles travelled by our finished goods.
It also provides room for the facility to expand.
Future-fit and working towards Lighthouse factory status
The new factory is among the largest in Unilever’s global operating network and it’s already looking at expansion and achieving classification as one of the World Economic Forum’s Advanced Fourth Industrial Revolution Lighthouse Factories in the next three to five years.
Current production lines feature highly specialised technologies including automated mixers, high-speed Shubham end-of-line packaging solutions, and bottle and capping machines, operated by computers specifically adapted to control our assembly lines.
During his visit to the site President Marcos got to try one of the VR headsets used by the factory’s team to provide diagnostics while the machine is running, increasing factory efficiency and reducing potential downtime.
And the goal is to automate and digitise operations even further, using the skills of this highly trained workforce.
Keeping sustainable practices at its core
Sustainability is also key. As well as reducing its carbon footprint through a new location that sees less miles travelled by goods, the factory is looking at energy efficiencies too.
An upgraded in-factory wastewater treatment facility manages water use and the factory is incorporating the use of geothermal and solar power. By the end of the month, it will join all of Unilever’s factories, offices and distribution centres in the Philippines in being powered by 100% renewable grid electricity.
Improving packaging is also a goal. Today, it’s producing deodorant lines that use 25% less plastic and is further innovating to meet Unilever’s global commitment towards a waste-free world.
Investing in growth, investing in the Philippines
“We remain optimistic about our prospects for growth in the country. Through the next century, Unilever will continue to make products that address our consumers’ concerns and needs, and positively impact lives and livelihoods,” says Benjie.
In terms of total FMCG market, the Philippines is the third-fastest growing market in value and volume growth across Asia Pacific according to another consumer research report.
“To see this project come to fruition after just several months is encouraging. It also inspires me, and the rest of the government, to work even harder for the Filipino people,” says President Marcos.
“That such an important facility as this is here in the Philippines, I’m sure it will help to encourage other groups to come in and do the same,” he adds.
WEF recognises our China manufacturing facility as a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution Lighthouse’
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