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Supplier summit reinforces commitment to developing and emerging markets


Average read time: 6 minutes

Unilever is currently staging the largest supplier meeting ever held in Singapore with its Partner to Win Supplier Summit 2013.

Unilever logo building

Over 350 representatives from Unilever’s strategic supplier partners are attending the summit with a programme of activity aimed at deepening relationships to drive consistently sustainable growth for Unilever globally while helping unlock more of the potential of developing and emerging markets.

Sales from developing markets represented 55 per cent of Unilever’s business in 2012 with future growth likely to be driven by regions such as South East Asia. Unilever recognises that continuing commitment through a strong programme of investment must however, be coupled with a corresponding growth in sustainable supply chain capacity.

Speakers at the summit included Unilever CEO Paul Polman and Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry, Lim Hng Kiang and Harish Manwani, Unilever COO.

Pier Luigi Sigismondi, Unilever Chief Supply Chain Officer addressing delegates said the theme of Winning Together was key to growth for Unilever and all those present at the event. “Our business has grown by €10 billion since 2009 despite the challenging economic conditions. This has been made possible through the investment our strategic supplier partners have made in increased capacity, innovation delivery and sustainable solutions together with Unilever.”

Specialist chemical company Clariant was cited as an example at the Singapore event. Winners of a ‘Unilever 2013 Partner to Win’ Award, Clariant partnered with Unilever to create an instant whitening effect on cotton fabrics after the first wash. Powered by this innovation, laundry brands in countries such as Brazil are delivering rapid growth.

“Strong partnerships with suppliers that share our sustainable growth ambitions are critical to continuing success. Our goal is to become the customer of choice for them,” said Pier Luigi Sigismondi.

The move to deepen supplier relationships will be formalised with the signing of further individual Joint Business Development Plans with strategic suppliers. These plans set out a clear framework of how suppliers and Unilever will work together to deliver sustainable growth over the long term.

Unilever is investing in developing and emerging markets, including more than 50 new factory and warehouse facilities, to deliver Unilever’s sustainable growth ambitions. Unilever is also investing in its people and this week opened a EUR44m state of the art training facility in Singapore.

Marc Engel, Chief Procurement Officer, Unilever said: “We see Singapore as a global hub and a gateway to some of our fastest growing businesses, such as Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines. We are also investing in emerging markets such as Myanmar where we need our partners to grow with us after recently announcing a €500 million programme of investment there.”

Singapore Economic Development Board Chairman, Leo Yip said: “I am delighted that Singapore was chosen to stage this Summit, the first time it has been held outside of London. Asia continues to offer companies strong growth opportunities, both as an attractive end-market and a prime investment location. But to capture these opportunities, companies need to build supply chain capacity in Asia, deepen supply chain relationships and undertake innovation. As a global-Asia hub, Singapore is well positioned to support companies and suppliers in these efforts.”

Partner to Win Awards

At the summit, Unilever also hosted the 2013 Partner to Win Awards to celebrate and recognise suppliers who have made a winning contribution in the areas of Innovation, Sustainability, Joint Value Creation, Capacity and Capability Building, as well as World Class Service through Operational Excellence. An award for Outstanding Contribution was also made.

The 2013 Partner to Win Award winners are:

Winning Innovation

  • Dow Chemicals worked with Unilever to develop a special polymer that delivers a consumer-perceptible soft skin feel. This unique technology was deployed in Lifebuoy in India and resulted in double digit growth.
  • BASF wins this award for partnering with Unilever to develop the next generation of fabric clean liquids and unit dose capsules.
  • Lindal has won this award for co-developing an aerosol valve which allows product concentration in our Sure, Dove and Vaseline brand deodorants.

Winning Sustainability

  • Varun Agro Processing Foods has pioneered a sustainable supply chain of tomato products in India, transforming the industry by improving yields and farmer income for 1,100 farmers.
  • Tata Chemicals Limited This award recognises Tata's efforts in helping us to significantly reduce the environmental impact of our laundry powders and their work with us to create traceability for mined chemicals.
  • Central Edible Oils (CEOCo) has delivered the world’s first volumes of sustainable sunflower oil from local farmers in South Africa and through this pioneering initiative.

Joint Value Creation

  • Borouge partnered with Unilever to develop a unique recipe for polyethylene film used in flexible packaging portfolio in Laundry, a programme that has delivered significant savings for our Omo, Surf, Wheel and Rin brands.
  • Clariant International and Unilever have together created an instant whitening effect on cotton fabrics after the first wash. Powered by this innovation, laundry brands in countries such as Brazil are growing at double digits.
  • WACKER Silicones helped Unilever to significantly reduce the cost for silicone emulsions for Hair care products by expanding capacities and developing affordable cost-effective solutions from its site in India.

Winning Capacity & Capability Building

  • Exal Group has partnered with Unilever to develop an industry leading aluminium deodorant can factory in Argentina. Thanks to this capacity expansion, the Latin American deodorants business continues to grow well into double digits.
  • Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhard (KLK) has won this award for its investments in supporting Unilever’s growth by creating capacities in South East Asia, across a broad spectrum of surfactants and oleo-chemicals. Through this support, Unilever has been able to deliver superior cleaning at an affordable cost.
  • Giant Foods is awarded for significant investment for Unilever in a vertically integrated Supply Chain for sustainably grown vegetables in the Shandong area in China. Its delivery of high quality broccoli florets in Unilever’s Knorr 'side dishes' range has led to a significant uplift in sales.

Winning World Class Service through Operational Excellence

  • Accenture and Salesforce have jointly won this award for the development and agile delivery of market-leading social collaboration technology, a platform that connects Unilever’s 7,500 marketers and provides applications for sharing creative assets and ideas.
  • Manuchar is a global partner for bulk inorganic chemicals used in laundry powders. This award recognises both outstanding service and the infrastructure investments they have made in areas such as port handling facilities and warehouses which are improving efficiency of freight handling.
  • Maersk has won this award for being the top performer in container sea freight with a 15% higher reliability in on-time delivery than the Top 20 carriers in the market.

Special Contribution

  • AHT Cooling Systems GmbH Austria & IARP SRL have partnered with us to bring Lean and Green ice-cream refrigeration cabinets to the market. These cabinets are 30% more energy efficient and use a greenhouse gas-friendly hydrocarbon refrigerant.

Unilever is the first company to adopt this refrigerant globally for ice-cream cabinets and now has more than 1.3 million cabinets operational in markets across 45 countries. Since the start of this initiative in 2008, it has delivered benefits equivalent of taking 400,000 cars off the road and saves energy equal to the needs of hundreds of thousands of people in developing markets. It has also resulted in 30% lower electricity bill for retailers.

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