UK – British multinational consumer goods company, Unilever, has underpinned the strong performance of a 7% increase in the first quarter turnover to €14.8 billion (US$16.25bn) to innovation and investment.

Underlying sales growth (USG) accelerated to 10.5%, driven by progress against strategic priorities, while growth was broad-based across Business Groups and geographies.

“Unilever has had a good start to the year, delivering another quarter of strong topline growth. Underlying sales growth accelerated to 10.5%, driven by price growth in response to continued high input cost inflation and improved volume performance,” Chief Executive Officer, Allan Jope said.

“We are continuing to execute well on our strategic priorities. Growth was broad-based across the five Business Groups, underpinned by strong performances from our billion+ Euro brands. We have stepped up both the effectiveness of our innovation and the investment behind our brands.”

In the Q1 turnover, Asia Pacific Africa contributed 46% (€6.8bn) after having an underlying sales growth (USG) of 9.9%, with 9.5% from price and 0.3% from volume.

The Americas had a 36% contribution to the turnover, with an underlying sales rise of 8.1% in North America, with 7.2% from price and 0.9% from volume.

Europe had an 18% share of the turnover (€2.8bn) with a USG of 9.2% after a 12.6% increase in price and 3.0% in volume.

Categorically, the ice cream business recorded an underlying sales jump of 6% with 10.5% from price, partially offset by a negative volume of (4.1)%.

While out-of-home Ice Cream grew double-digit with positive price and volume in anticipation of a good ice cream season, in-home Ice Cream grew low single-digit but volumes declined as consumption remained impacted across regions by the discretionary nature of the category in a heavily inflationary environment.

Nutrition underlying sales rose 11.9%, with 13.4% from price and (1.3)% from volume. The Unilever Food Solutions increased by a double-digit as China recovered throughout the quarter and other markets continued to deliver strong growth.

Scratch Cooking Aids grew high single-digit as Africa’s sales climbed double-digit following the relaunch of fortified Knorr stock cubes to address iodine and zinc deficiencies.

Unilever said it is still on track to deliver €600m of cost savings over the next two years following the introduction of its “simpler, more category-focused operating model” last July.

This includes its five core business groups – beauty and wellbeing, personal care, home care, ice cream, and nutrition – and tech-focused Unilever Business Operations division.

“Premiumization is an explicit part of the organic growth strategies of all five business groups,” said Jope. “Prestige beauty and health and wellbeing have now achieved nine consecutive quarters of volume-led, double-digit growth. We aim to continue this momentum.”

The company now expects underlying sales growth for the full year 2023 to be at least at the upper end of our multi-year range of 3 – 5%. Underlying price growth will remain high in the first half and soften through the year.

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