Unilever has posted underlying sales growth of 7.3% for Q1, and raised its cost forecast for the second half of 2022 as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war.
The owner of Ben & Jerry’s and Marmite reported turnover of €13.8 billion for Q1, representing an increase of 11.8% on the year-ago period.
The company’s foods and refreshment sector recorded underlying sales growth of 6.5%, driven by double-digit increases in food solutions and out-of-home ice cream as channels reopened.
Underlying sales grew across Unilever’s Asia/AMET/RUB and Americas segments in the quarter – by 9.1% and 9.0% respectively. In North America, functional nutrition and food solutions continued to show strong momentum, delivering double-digit growth.
In Europe, Unilever’s underlying sales grew a moderate 0.7%, with most markets in volume decline as consumer demand was impacted by price increases. However, the company’s out-of-home ice cream business was boosted by fewer restrictions in the quarter compared with Q1 2021 and a stronger sell-in ahead of the ice cream season.
In January, the company announced a new structure organised around five business groups, which it now says is “on track for launch from the middle of the year”. It is expected that the new structure will result in around €600 million of cost savings over two years.
CEO Alan Jope stated: “We are executing well in a very challenging input cost environment. Underlying sales growth of 7.3% was driven by strong pricing, with a limited impact on volume in the quarter. This performance was delivered against the backdrop of significant rises in input costs that have further accelerated through the first three months of the year and the human tragedy of the war in Ukraine.”
He added: “We continue to reshape our portfolio into high-growth spaces, with prestige beauty and functional nutrition again growing strongly. We remain on track to deliver the previously announced, simpler, more category-focused organisation structure on 1 July 2022.”
Unilever says that it continues to expect input cost inflation of around €2.1 billion in the first half, but that the outbreak of war in Ukraine and the related increase in raw material inflation have raised its cost forecast for the second half of the year, when it now expects input cost inflation to be around €2.7 billion.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2022
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