Although the coronavirus crisis had a significant positive sales effect on the type of products sold by Unilever, overall the cleaning and food products group recorded stable results in 2020.
Hand gels and meat substitutes
In particular, Unilever sold more household hygiene products, such as hand gels and laundry products. Beauty products such as deodorants and make-up were somewhat less in demand, due to the restricted social life.
The crisis also had an impact on the food sector. Ben & Jerry's ice cream for retail customers performed very well, while deliveries to the catering industry fell sharply, as expected. Meat substitutes from The Vegetarian Butcher reached growth peaks of 70% in sales during the fourth quarter.
Profits did not profit
Last year, total sales amounted to 50.7 billion euros, a decrease of 2.4% due to negative exchange rate effects. Net profit increased slightly by 0.8% to 6.1 billion euros. Due to higher costs, operating profit declined by 4.6% compared to 2019.
Looking forward, Unilever expects strong growth in demand for vegetarian food products. The company therefore wants to focus more on this category. In addition, CEO Alan Jope wants to strengthen its e-commerce activities, as the online sales channels currently account for 9% of turnover.