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Unilever Sees Sustainability Supporting Growth

Building Brands with Purpose, Sustainable Agriculture and Transformational Partnerships Make Significant Contributions to the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan

Published 05-20-15

Submitted by Unilever

Four years into its ambitious and wide-ranging Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever globally is making a growing and positive impact on its business in terms of growth, cost efficiency and resilience for the future. At a time when more and more companies are talking about ‘brands with purpose,’ Unilever has put some definition and measurement behind what it calls ‘sustainable living brands’ – meaning brands that contribute to one or more of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan goals and have a sustainable living purpose.

In the U.S. and globally, Unilever brands that have led the way on sustainable living, such as Dove and Ben & Jerry’s, are achieving above average growth, with high single and double digit sales over the past three years.

‘Sustainable living brands’ now represent half of Unilever global growth and are growing twice as fast as other brands. A growing number of leading Unilever brands have integrated sustainability into the contribution they make to the world, product ingredients and lifecycle and their brand purpose. The ‘sustainable living brands’ are evidence of the Unilever purpose in action - making sustainable living commonplace.

In the United States in 2014, Unilever focused on three key areas to drive significant contributions to the sustainable living ambition of decoupling its growth from its environmental impact and increasing its overall social impact:

  • Brands with Purpose: Embedding the Sustainable Living Plan into brands grows sales, engages consumers and creates efficiencies. For example, Dove’s Self-Esteem program has reached more than 7.2 million young people in the U.S. since 2005 and as of January 2015, all Ben & Jerry’s pint, mini cup and scoop shop flavors are made with Fairtrade certified ingredients such as sugar, cocoa, vanilla, coffee and bananas.

  • Sustainable Agriculture: The company continues to strengthen relationships with American farmers as it looks to sustainably source soybean oil for I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!, Country Crock and Hellmann’s brands, fruits for ice cream brands, such as Fruttare and vegetables for the Knorr brand. All Breyers vanilla beans, Magnum cocoa and Lipton tea in tea bags are Rainforest Alliance certified.

  • Transformational Partnerships: Establishing a novel partnership with energy provider NRG allowed Unilever to set a commitment of 100% renewable power by 2020 across all Unilever U.S. sites. In 2014, Unilever partnered with the Closed Loop Fund to help address U.S. recycling challenges such as access to capital for infrastructure and consumer education.  

    “Our U.S. business is extremely focused on how we can deliver against the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan and drive wider systemic change in the U.S.,” said Kees Kruythoff, President, Unilever North America. “We have set a clear agenda, aligned with our global priorities and are focused on putting full resources behind programs that can drive scaled impact.”

    Around the world, Unilever is committed to working to bring about transformational change throughout the whole value chain and to developing further its portfolio of ‘sustainable living brands’ in a way that meets the needs of consumers. It will continue to systematically measure its brands’ sustainability performance, using the learnings to drive further progress.

    The company confirmed that it is on track to meet most of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan goals, which it set in 2010. The consumer element of reducing environmental impact goal remains more challenging, and heavily dependent on wider market shifts. But Unilever has started to decouple its environmental footprint from its underlying sales growth.

    To download the Unilever U.S. progress report: http://www.unileverusa.com/Images/USLP%20Progress%20Report%202014_tcm23-426738.pdf.

    A detailed report on the progress made globally against the targets set out in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan and approach to transformational change is available online at: unilever.com/sustainable-living.

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    About Unilever United States, Inc.

    Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Refreshments, Home and Personal Care products with sales in more than 190 countries. In the United States, the portfolio includes brand icons such as: Axe, Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers, Caress, Clear Scalp & Hair Therapy, Consort For Men, Country Crock, Degree, Dove personal care products, Fruttare, Good Humor, Hellmann’s, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!, Just for Me!, Klondike, Knorr, Lever 2000, Lipton, Magnum, Motions, Nexxus, Noxzema, Pond’s, Popsicle, Promise, Q-tips, Simple, St. Ives, Suave, Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto, TIGI, TONI&GUY Hair Meet Wardrobe, TRESemmé and Vaseline.  All of the preceding brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of the Unilever Group of Companies.

    Unilever employs approximately 8,000 people in the United States – generating approximately $8.5 billion in sales in 2014.

    The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) aims to double the size of its business, while reducing its overall environmental footprint and increasing positive social impact. The USLP is the company’s strategic response to the challenges businesses face operating in an uncertain and volatile world. See more on the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan at http://www.unileverusa.com/sustainable-living/.

    Unilever ranked number one in its sector on the 2014 Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

    All of Unilever global factory network, as well as its U.S. non-manufacturing facilities, have achieved zero non-hazardous waste to landfill status.

    For more information on Unilever U.S. and its brands visit: www.unileverusa.com

    To connect with Unilever U.S. via Facebook visit: www.facebook.com/unileverusa

    To connect with Unilever U.S. via Twitter follow: @unileverusa

    To learn more about taking small actions that can make a big difference visit: https://brightfuture.unilever.us/"‹

    Unilever logo

    Unilever

    Unilever

    Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of fast moving consumer goods with operations in over 100 countries and sales in 190. Consumers buy 170 billion Unilever packs around the world every year, and our products are used over two billion times a day. We have more than 171,000 employees, and generated annual sales of €46.5 billion in 2011. More than half our sales are generated in emerging markets (56% in 2011). Working to create a better future every day, we help people feel good, look good and get more out of life with brands and services that are good for them and good for others. Our portfolio includes some of the world’s best known brands including Knorr, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Dove, Vaseline, Persil, Cif, Radox, Sure and Lifebuoy.

    Our ambition is to double the size of our business, whilst reducing our overall environmental impact (including sourcing, consumer use and disposal). We are also committed to doing what we can to improve health, nutrition and hygiene, with a target to help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being, as well as sourcing all our agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2020. All of these goals are itemised in around 50 time-based commitments in our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.

    Unilever has led the Food Producers sector in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Indexes for 14 consecutive years and has regained the leadership of the Food and Beverage supersector. We are included in the FTSE4Good Index Series and attained a top environmental score of 5, leading to inclusion in the FTSE4Good Environmental Leaders Europe 40 Index. In 2011 Unilever led the Climate Counts Company Scorecard and were named #1 in the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in GlobeScan Inc. and SustainAbility Ltd’s latest annual survey (2012).

    For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit www.unilever.com

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