Unilever ice cream brands boost overall sales

Unilever's Food division reported a 2.1% decrease in underlying volume growth (Flickr/Sean Biehle)

Unilever’s ice creams and Knorr brands helped to boost food and refreshment sales by 2.2% in its first quarter results, despite sales being impacted by this year’s late Easter.

Underlying volume growth in Unilever’s Food division decreased 2.1% to €3.2bn (£2.7bn) in the three months to April 1, mainly due to its problematic spreads business, which it plans to sell. The Easter break falling in April this year meant sales across the division remained flat, Unilever said.

Total group turnover rose 6.1% to €13.3bn (£11.1bn) across the three months. Price rises boosted underlying sales growth by 2.9%.

‘Continued investment’

Unilever ceo Paul Polman said: “The first quarter shows growth once more ahead of our markets. This reflects our continued investment in both innovations and brand support, and reconfirms the strength of our long-term sustainable compounding growth model.

“The actions we are taking keep us on track for another year of underlying sales growth ahead of our markets, in the 3–5% range. We also expect an improvement in underlying operating margin this year of at least 80 basis points and strong cash flow. We are raising the dividend by 12%, reflecting the confidence in our outlook.”

Launched new products

Ben & Jerry’s ice cream reported double-digit growth, while Solero and Magnum both launched new products, which contributed to the Refreshment division’s 2.2% rise in underlying sales.

Unilever’s spreads business reported a 5.1% drop in sales, due to “market contraction in developed countries”. The manufacturer revealed plans to sell or demerge the business on April 6. Excluding the spreads business, the Food division reported a 1.7% rise in sales.

Meanwhile, Kraft Heinz was not mentioned at all in Unilever’s trading update, after the US firm’s botched attempt to buy Unilever in February. Kraft Heinz’s pursuit of Unilever ultimately led to its decision to sell its spreads business.


Unilever trading update – at a glance
  • Food and refreshment sales up 2.2%
  • Underlying volume growth in Food down 2.1%
  • Sales impacted by late Easter

Related News

Mackie's of Scotland will stock its honeycomb ice cream in Sainsbury

Ice cream maker in £700,000 deal to supply Sainsbury

The Unite union called for urgent assurances over the future of its 200 Unilever Spreads members

Unilever urged to ‘give assurances over 200 Spreads jobs’

Unilever boss Paul Polman urged the government to review takeover rules

Unilever boss calls for takeover review

Retail sales of frozen food have grown 3% in the past year

Retail frozen food sales grow to £5.8bn

Unilever's decision to sell off its Spreads division puts '200 jobs at risk'

Unilever’s Spreads sale puts ‘200 jobs at risk’

Unilever Foods reported sales and profit rises of 3.7% and 1.6% respectively, across the last three months of 2016

Unilever’s food sales and profits rise

Unilever staff need job assurances after Kraft Heinz's failed merger bid (Flickr/David Martyn Hunt)

Unilever staff need job assurances after Kraft bid

Unilever's Leatherhead site was one of five sites that became 100% carbon neutral in energy

Unilever’s energy sourcing becomes carbon neutral

Kraft Heinz approached Unilever over a potential mega merger

Kraft Heinz mega merger with Unilever turned down

Unilever 'may sell' its spreads brands Flora, Stork and Bertolli after the failed Kraft Heinz bid

Unilever ‘to sell’ spreads brands after review

Unilever chief executive Paul Polman abandons its sustainability credentials at his peril, suggests one City analyst

Unilever review likely to lead to food disposals

Kraft Heinz backed down over its potential merger with Unilever (Flickr/mat79)

Kraft Heinz ditches £115bn Unilever merger

Polman: Unilever is to offload its spreads business and combine its food and beverages units

Unilever to put Spreads business up for sale

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.