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Unilever, a good start with strong volume growth in first quarter

The Foods & Refreshment Division continued to build its presence in emerging markets

Today, Unilever announced its results for the first quarter of 2018, which show good volume-driven performance across all three Divisions

Today, Unilever announced its results for the first quarter of 2018, which show good volume-driven performance. Turnover decreased 5.2% to €12.6 billion, which included an adverse currency impact of (9.8)% and 1.5% from acquisitions net of disposals. Emerging markets grew by 5.1% with a strong contribution from volume, while price growth was modest in a lower inflation environment. Developed markets grew by 1.1% despite continued price deflation in Europe and North America.

The Foods & Refreshment Division continued to build its presence in emerging markets and sustained a strong performance in food service channels. At the same time, it further modernised the portfolio by responding to consumer needs in fast-growing segments such as ‘free-from’, vegan, health and wellness.

Innovations behind its premium ice cream brands contributed to another good start to the year. These included the launch of Magnum Core and Praline variants, which provide its most indulgent ice cream experience yet, and the roll-out of the successful Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy platform from the US into Europe. Breyers delights’ low-calorie, high-protein variants have now been launched in 11 countries.

Leaf tea continued with the positive momentum shown in 2017, driven by strong innovations in green and other speciality teas in India, where it extended its market leadership, and strong performances in North Africa. The recently acquired Pukka Herbs organic herbal tea business had a very good first quarter.

In foods, Knorr delivered another quarter of growth above the Group average, primarily driven by cooking products in emerging markets, as well as innovations in developed markets. These included the launch of Knorr mini meals in Europe, snack products with natural and nutritious ingredients, and Knorr Selects side dishes in the US. Hellmann’s continued to communicate its strong natural claims while further extending its range with the launch of avocado and sunflower oil variants with Omega 3 and Vitamin E in the US. Volume growth improved, however pricing turned negative in an increased promotional environment.

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