Unilever sees sustainability supporting growth

Building brands with purpose, sustainable agriculture and transformational partnerships make significant contributions to the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.

Englewood Cliffs, NJ (May 20, 2015) - 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 also 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 (PDF | 3MB).

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.

Unilever North America


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