Statement from Alan Jope
“Unilever has delivered another quarter of growth in challenging macroeconomic conditions. Underlying sales growth improved to 10.6%, led by further increases in pricing with only a limited impact on volume, and we now expect underlying sales growth for the full year 2022 to be above 8%.
“We have delivered growth in each of our five Business Groups, led by a strong performance from our billion+ Euro brands, growing 14% in the quarter. Strong pricing allows us to continue to drive increased investment behind our brands.
“Our organisation is now better structured to deliver consistent growth through a simpler, more category-focused operating model. The full benefits will be realised over time, and we are seeing encouraging early signs of improved accountability and faster decision-making.
“The global macroeconomic outlook remains mixed, and we expect the challenges of high inflation to persist in 2023. The delivery of consistent growth remains our first priority.”
We now expect underlying sales growth for the full year 2022 to be above 8%, with more negative underlying volume growth than in the first nine months.
Our expectation for net material inflation (NMI) for 2022 is virtually unchanged at around €4.5 billion, with €2.5 billion in the second half. Although some commodities have softened from their peaks, we expect cost pressure to carry forward into 2023, driven by currency devaluation, higher raw material costs versus beneficial covers in the first half of 2022, and higher supplier processing costs from energy and labour inflation. Our current estimate for NMI in H1 2023 versus H1 2022 is in the region of €2 billion, with a range of possible outcomes.
Investment in growth is our priority, and we will continue to protect investment levels. In the second half of 2022, we expect to increase spend in brand and marketing, R&D and capital expenditure, as we did in the first half. Our full year underlying operating margin expectation for 2022 remains at 16%, and we continue to expect to improve margin in 2023 and 2024, through pricing, mix and savings.
Unilever overall performance
Underlying sales growth stepped up to 10.6% and was broad-based across all Business Groups. Price growth has sequentially improved in each of the past seven quarters, reaching 12.5% in the third quarter. While pricing had, as expected, some negative impact on volume, underlying volume growth improved in four Business Groups compared to the second quarter.
Beauty & Wellbeing grew 6.7%, driven by price with slightly negative volume primarily due to core Skin Care and Hair Care. Personal Care underlying sales were up 8.9%, led by increased pricing and a lower volume decline as Deodorants returned to volume growth.
Home Care delivered 13.6% USG with a volume decline of 3.6%, having taken the highest pricing action given its exposure to input cost increases. Nutrition grew 11.8% with virtually flat volume due to strong performances in Dressings and Food Solutions. Ice Cream improved underlying sales by 13.2%, driven by double-digit price growth in both in-home and out-of-home. Volume was up 1.0%, helped by a strong summer season in Europe compared to the prior year.
Emerging markets grew 13.3% with a 14.9% contribution from price and volume at (1.4)%. South Asia continued to grow strongly through both price and volume. Price growth in Latin America increased to 23.2% with volumes contracting by 4.6%. China returned to slightly positive growth, and sales growth in South-East Asia benefitted from lapping the prior year lockdown effect in some markets. Developed markets increased by 7.1%, with 9.3% from price and (2.0)% from volume. North America grew 8.3%, boosted by strong performances of Nutrition and Ice Cream. Europe delivered 5.4% growth, helped by double-digit growth in Ice Cream.
Turnover increased 17.8% to €15.8 billion, which included a currency impact of 8.8% and (2.1)% from disposals net of acquisitions. This reflects the sale of the global tea business, ekaterra, which completed on 1 July 2022.
Capital allocation and operating model
On 22 July, we completed the first tranche of €750 million of the share buyback programme of up to €3 billion. On 6 September 2022, we announced a second tranche of €750 million which will complete in December 2022. The quarterly interim dividend for the third quarter is maintained at €0.4268.
Our pension funds faced no liquidity or operational issues through recent market volatility and remain well funded.
Since 1 July 2022, our simpler, more category-focused operating model for Unilever has been in place, organised around five Business Groups and a technology-driven backbone, Unilever Business Operations. We expect to deliver the new structure within existing restructuring plans, and to generate around €600 million of cost savings over the first two years after 1 July, with the majority in 2023.
Beauty & Wellbeing (21% of Q3 turnover)
Beauty & Wellbeing underlying sales grew 6.7%, with 7.3% from price and (0.6)% from volume.
Hair Care grew high single-digit, driven by Latin America and South Asia, partially offset by modest growth in developed markets and China. Sunsilk and Clear performed well with strong contributions from price. Skin Care grew low single-digit, as strong growth in South-East Asia was offset by declines in Europe and North Asia. Vaseline and Pond’s delivered good growth, supported by innovations with additional consumer benefits. Prestige Beauty performed well with strong contributions from Paula’s Choice and Living Proof which entered into the bond-building premium hair care category.
Hourglass continued its expansion into China through online and premium retail stores. Health & Wellbeing turnover now includes sales of recent acquisition Nutrafol, while Liquid I.V. contributed strongly to underlying sales growth.
Personal Care (23% of Q3 turnover)
Personal Care underlying sales grew 8.9%, with 13.5% from price and (4.1)% from volume. While the volume decline was lower than in the second quarter, it was affected by strong price increases taken in Skin Cleansing to mitigate input cost inflation.
Deodorants continued to perform strongly, delivering double-digit pricing and positive volume growth. This was supported by continued premiumisation and strong innovations, such as the 72-hour protection technology from Rexona. Skin Cleansing delivered strong double-digit price growth with high single-digit volume decline. Lux grew strongly, still benefitting from the relaunch of its bars in South Asia and the Middle East which provide a further improved skin care experience.
The reformulated Dove deep moisture body wash, with microbiome nutrient serum, continued to perform well across its launch markets. Oral Care achieved high single-digit growth, helped by the relaunch of Pepsodent with increased naturals and efficacy credentials in South-East Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Home Care (20% of Q3 turnover)
Home Care underlying sales grew 13.6%, with 17.8% from price and (3.6)% from volume.
Fabric Cleaning held volumes while achieving more than 20% price growth, driven by very good performances in India, Brazil, Turkey and Vietnam with modest sales growth in Europe and China. Helped by their brand strength, OMO and Radiant contributed strongly for another quarter. Fabric Enhancers grew double-digit with modest volume decline, as the category benefitted from some post-Covid return of consumers in South-East Asia and Turkey.
Comfort grew double-digit with positive volume as it continued to benefit from the relaunch with a new fragrance and ‘Clothes Care’ technology to better protect clothes from damage. Home & Hygiene delivered single-digit growth with lower volume in a declining market that reflects a slowdown in disinfecting habits.
Nutrition (21% of Q3 turnover)
Nutrition underlying sales grew 11.8%, with 11.7% from price and 0.1% from volume.
The biggest category, Scratch Cooking Aids, grew high single-digit with a modest volume decline which was driven by Europe. South-East Asia, Africa and North America performed strongly led by Knorr. Unilever Food Solutions recovered to pre-Covid volume levels and is now well ahead on sales. Dressings had a very strong quarter with broad-based, double-digit price growth and positive volumes, supported by continued growth momentum of Hellmann’s, particularly in the United States. Our remaining Beverages business delivered slight volume and price growth in competitive markets.
Ice cream (15% of Q3 turnover)
Ice Cream underlying sales grew 13.2%, with 12.0% from price and 1.0% from volume.
Both in-home and out-of-home Ice Cream grew strongly, driven by double-digit price growth. Volume growth was driven by out-of-home which continued to recover sales lost during the pandemic but is yet to return to 2019 volumes. In-home showed a slight volume decline, reflecting high price growth in the Americas and some supply issues in the United States.
Europe benefitted from a strong summer season, and Turkey delivered very good growth despite the high-inflation pressure on consumers. The Heart brand, Magnum and Cornetto delivered positive volume growth supported by continued strength of new variant innovations, such as Magnum Remix which has been launched across 65 countries.