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Title: Unilever  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Surf (detergent), Lux (soap), Marmite, Continental (brand), Suave
Collection: British Royal Warrant Holders, Companies Based in the City of London, Companies Listed on the London Stock Exchange, Companies Listed on the New York Stock Exchange, Cosmetics Companies of the United Kingdom, Dental Companies, Dual-Listed Companies, Food Manufacturers of the United Kingdom, Household and Personal Product Companies of the United Kingdom, Manufacturing Companies Established in 1929, Manufacturing Companies of the Netherlands, Multinational Companies Based in the City of London, Multinational Companies Headquartered in the Netherlands, Multinational Food Companies, Palm Oil, Personal Care Companies, Publicly Traded Companies Based in the City of London, Unilever
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Unilever N.V.
Unilever plc
Dual-listed (Naamloze vennootschap/
Public limited company)
Traded as Euronext: UNA
Industry Consumer goods
Founded 1930 (1930) (by merger)[1]
Headquarters Unilever N.V. Rotterdam, Netherlands
Unilever House, London, England, United Kingdom[2]
Area served
Key people
Products Foods, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products
Revenue 48.436 billion (2014)[3]
7.980 billion (2014)
5.515 billion (2014)[3]
Number of employees
172,000 (2015)[4]
Website .com.unileverwww

Unilever is a British-Dutch multinational consumer goods company co-headquartered in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and London, United Kingdom. Its products include food, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products. It is the world's third-largest consumer goods company measured by 2012 revenue, after Procter & Gamble and Nestlé.[5] Unilever is the world's largest producer of food spreads, such as margarine.[6] One of the oldest multinational companies, its products are available in around 190 countries.[7]

Unilever owns over 400 brands, but focuses on 14 brands with sales of over 1 billion

  • Official website

External links

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  7. ^ a b "Our approach to sustainability". Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  8. ^ Unilever R&D Locations, Unilever, viewed 19 December 2013
  9. ^ Frankfurt Stock Exchange
  10. ^ "British Pathe News, Wealth of the World, 1950". Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
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  13. ^, Unilever website, about section, 1920-1929.
  14. ^ Ben Wubs (11 June 2008). International Business and National War Interests: Unilever Between Reich and Empire, 1939-45. Routledge. p. 154.  
  15. ^ a b "Corporate venturing: the origins of Unilever's pregnancy test" (PDF). Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  16. ^ a b Greg Thain; John Bradley (11 July 2014). FMCG: The Power of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods. First Edition Design Pub. p. 426.  
  17. ^ Manuel Hensmans; Gerry Johnson; George Yip (8 January 2013). Strategic Transformation: Changing While Winning. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 139.  
  18. ^ "1960 - 1969". Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
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  20. ^ a b Manuel Hensmans; Gerry Johnson; George Yip (8 January 2013). Strategic Transformation: Changing While Winning. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 141.  
  21. ^ a b c Collins, Glenn (15 February 1996). "Unilever Agrees to Buy Helene Curtis". New York Times. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  22. ^ Jones, Geoffrey (2005). Renewing Unilever: Transformation and Tradition. Oxford University Press. p. 362.  
  23. ^ "Unilever moots merger of Elida Gibbs and Lever Bros". UK: Marketing Week. Retrieved 26 November 2013. Unilever is understood to be planning to merge its Elida Gibbs and Lever Brother’s operations after Elida Gibbs relocates its headquarters to Lever House in Kingston, Surrey. 
  24. ^ a b c d e f g Jones, Geoffrey (2005). Renewing Unilever: Transformation and Tradition. Oxford University Press. p. 364.  
  25. ^ "Sustainable agriculture". Archived from the original on 11 May 2008. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  26. ^ "ACH Foods Company Overview". Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  27. ^ "ACH Food Companies, Inc. Buys Unilever's Mazola Corn Oil and Associated Brands". 23 April 2002. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  28. ^ Nicholson, Marcy (25 May 2007). "San Diego Times". Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  29. ^ "Unilver: Sustainable Tea". Archived from the original on 2 January 2010. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  30. ^ "Unilever press release". Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  31. ^ Unilever buys Sara Lee's personal care division for £1.17bn Daily Telegraph, 25 September 2009
  32. ^ Unilever completes Sara Lee Personal Care & European Laundry acquisition, Unilever, 6 December 2010
  33. ^ Unilever acquires Diplom-Is operations in Denmark Food Bev, 11 August 2010
  34. ^ Cargill Acquires Unilever Tomato Business Food Processing, 30 September 2010
  35. ^ "Unilever to Purchase Alberto Culver for $3.7 Billion". Businessweek. 27 September 2010. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  36. ^ Unilever buys Greek Ice Cream Manufacturer Food News, 28 September 2010
  37. ^ "Timeline of Major Farm Animal Protection Advancements". Humane Society. February 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  38. ^ Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive exchange brands Marketing Week, 23 March 2011
  39. ^ "Unilever and Procter & Gamble in price fixing fine". BBC News. 13 April 2011. 
  40. ^ Unilever Sells Alberto VO5, Rave to Brynwood Wall Street Journal, 24 August 2011
  41. ^ Unilever to Buy Russia’s Kalina in $694 Million Deal to Aid Emerging Push Bloomberg, 14 October 2011
  42. ^ "The Maker of Dove Soaps Will Phase Out Exfoliating Plastic Microbeads". Business Insider. 27 December 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  43. ^ "Spam maker Hormel pays $700m for Unilever's Skippy peanut butter business". The Daily Telegraph (London). 3 January 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  44. ^ "Skippy peanut butter sold to Spam owner". BBC News. 3 January 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  45. ^ Abhishek Takle (4 July 2013). "Unilever raises stake in Indian unit to 67 percent". Reuters. 
  46. ^ "Pinnacle Foods to buy Unilever's Wish-Bone salad dressing business". Reuters. 12 August 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  47. ^ "Unilever acquires T2 tea brand". B&T. 10 September 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  48. ^ "Peperami gobbled up by US meat snacks firm Jack Link's". The Guardian (London). 21 February 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  49. ^ "Unilever buys majority stake in Chinese water purification company". Reuters. 9 March 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  50. ^ "Unilever Acquires Majority Stake in Chinese Water-Purification Company". The New York Times. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  51. ^ "Consumer goods major Unilever sells Ragu and Bertolli brands". Japan Herald. Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  52. ^ "Unilever sells Slim-Fast to Kainos Capital". Unilever. Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  53. ^ a b "Unilever’s Bullying Backfires, Boosts Hampton Creek". EatDrinkPolitics. Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  54. ^ "Hampton Creek Plans To Counter-Sue Unilever Over Mayo Fight". TechCrunch. Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  55. ^ "Hellmann's Maker Sues Competitor Because Free Markets Are Hard". Reason. Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  56. ^ "Big Food's Weird War Over The Meaning Of Mayonnaise, America's Top Condiment". The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  57. ^ "Vegan Mayonnaise Maker Sued By Food Giant Unilever". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  58. ^ "Giant Corporation Generates Huge Quantities of Free Advertising and Brand Equity For Tiny Rival by Suing It". @mims/Twitter. Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  59. ^ "Unilever buys premium Italian ice cream maker GROM". Reuters. 1 October 2015. 
  60. ^ a b c "2013 Annual Report and Accounts" (PDF). Unilever. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  61. ^ Rushton, Katherine (13 December 2011). "Unilever to shake up £5.1bn global advertising spend". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 9 January 2012. 
  62. ^ "Unilever to review media buying". Reuters. 13 December 2011. Retrieved 9 January 2012. 
  63. ^ Sterling, Toby (4 September 2008). "Unilever: Nestle executive to take CEO job". USA Today. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  64. ^ "Unilever Completes TIGI Acquisition". GCI magazine. 14 April 2009. 
  65. ^ "TIGI consumer site". Archived from the original on 20 October 2009. 
  66. ^ "Unilever's SIC codes". 
  67. ^ a b c d "Governance of Unilever – 1 January 2012" (PDF). Unilever. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  68. ^ "Unilever icons explained". 1 December 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  69. ^ "Unilever case study". Wolff Olins. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  70. ^ "Our Vision". Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  71. ^ "WIMN - Dove's "Real Beauty" Backlash". Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  72. ^ a b Claire Cozens. "Lynx marketing campaign". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  73. ^ a b Degrading' Lynx adverts featuring Lucy Pinder banned by watchdog"'". Daily Mail. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  74. ^ "Sustainable Living Plan". Unilever. 2014. 
  75. ^ "Unilever admits toxic dumping: will clean up but not come clean". Greenpeace. Retrieved 7 May 2014. 
  76. ^ "Ape protest at Unilever factory". BBC. Retrieved 23 March 2008. 
  77. ^ a b "Palm Oil: Cooking the Climate". GREENPEACE. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  78. ^ a b c "How Unilever Palm Oil Suppliers are Burning Up Borneo" (PDF). Greenpeace International. Retrieved 10 April 2013. 
  79. ^ "Unilever commits to certified sustainable palm oil | Media centre | Unilever Global". 29 August 2012. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  80. ^ "Unilever's Position on Palm Oil SOurcing" (PDF). Retrieved 7 August 2015. 
  81. ^ "Manifesto for the Conservation of the Tanoé Swamps Forest". Retrieved 19 July 2008. 
  82. ^ "Paper Giant Pledges to Leave the Poor Rainforest Alone. Finally. Asia Pulp & Paper—the notorious destroyer of pristine tiger and orangutan habitat—says it's changing its ways.".  
  83. ^  
  84. ^ "Unilever sustainable tea Part 1: Leapfrogging to mainstream". Retrieved 15 March 2011. 
  85. ^ Ethical Corporation (January 2005). Bean Wars. URL accessed on 3 September 2006.
  86. ^ "TransFair USA | Board Members". 27 June 2009. Retrieved 29 May 2015. 
  87. ^ Larson, Selena (1 August 2015). "Indian rapper protests corporation's toxic waste dump with "Anaconda" remix". Daily Dot. Retrieved 4 August 2015. 
  88. ^ "Indian rapper Sofia Ashraf protests water pollution". The Daily Star. 4 August 2015. Retrieved 4 August 2015. 
  89. ^ "Kodaikanal, India - The Facts". Unilever. Retrieved 7 August 2015. 


See also

In 2015, Indian rapper Sofia Ashraf released the music video "Kodaikanal Won't," set to the beat of Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda," to criticize Unilever for allegedly dumping mercury into waste ground at the Indian town of Kodaikanal.[87][88] Unilever acknowledges it took on a thermometer factory there through the acquisition of Chesebrough-Ponds. According to Unilever's statement, the factory had sold mercury-contaminated scrap glass to a local dealer, prompting Hindustan Unilever to immediately close the factory, plan the clean-up of the affected sites and monitor the health of its workers. Unilever's website states that it has been waiting since 2010 for the local government Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to give it permission for the clean-up.[89]


The Rainforest Alliance certification scheme has been criticised for not offering producers minimum or guaranteed price,[85] therefore leaving them vulnerable to market price variations. The alternative certificate, Fairtrade, has however received similar criticism as well. The Rainforest Alliance certification has furthermore been criticized for allowing the use of the seal on products that contain only a minimum of 30% of certified content, which according to some endangers the integrity of the certification.[86]


Unilever certifies its tea products by the [84]

Rainforest Alliance

For years, Unilever purchased paper for its packaging from Asia Pulp & Paper, the third largest paper producer in the world, which was labeled as a "forest criminal" for destroying "precious habitat" in Indonesia’s rainforest.[82] In 2011, when Unilever cancelled its contract with Asia Pulp & Paper, Greenpeace Executive Director Phil Radford commended the company for efforts made towards forest protection, for "taking rainforest conservation seriously."[83]

Paper use

In Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), one of Unilever's palm oil suppliers was accused of clearing forest for plantations, an activity that threatened a primate species, Miss Waldron's Red Colobus. Unilever intervened to halt the clearances pending the results of an environmental assessment.[81]

Unilever, as a founding member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), responded by publicising its plan to obtain all of its palm oil from sources that are certified as sustainable by 2015.[79] It claims to have met this goal in 2012 and is encouraging the rest of the industry to become 100% sustainable by 2020.[80]

Furthermore, Indonesia was the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases largely due to the destruction of rainforests for the palm oil industry, which contributed to 4% of global green house gas emissions.[78] According to Greenpeace, palm oil expansion was taking place with little oversight from central or local government as procedures for environmental impact assessment, land-use planning and ensuring a proper process for development of concessions were neglected.[78] Plantations that were off-limits, by law, for palm oil plantations were being established as well as the illegal use of fire to clear forest areas was commonplace.[78]

Unilever has been criticised by Greenpeace for causing deforestation,[75] Unilever was targeted in 2008 by Greenpeace UK,[76] which criticised the company for buying palm oil from suppliers that are damaging Indonesia's rainforests.[77] By 2008, Indonesia was losing 2% of its remaining rainforest each year, having the fastest deforestation rate of any country. The United Nations Environmental Programme stated that palm oil plantations are the leading cause of deforestation in Indonesia.[77]

Palm oil

Unilever has declared the goal of decoupling its environmental impact from its growth, by: halving the environmental footprint of its products over the next 10 years; helping 1 billion people improve their health and well-being; and sourcing all of its agricultural raw materials sustainably.[74]

Environmental record

Both advertising campaigns make stark comparisons between how women and their sexuality are portrayed in advertising and sales efficiency. Lynx commonly portrays the women in their visual advertisements as hyper sexual, flawless and stereotypically attractive who are aroused by the men, of all ages and stature, for their use of the Lynx product. Their target audience are men between the ages of 16-24 who are single.[72]

Lynx/Axe: Axe, known as Lynx in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, is a toiletries brand marketed towards young men between the age of 16 and 24.[72] It is marketed using double entendre and tongue in cheek humor, which 'suggests the men using it instantly become more attractive, with beautiful women falling at their feet.' (Poulter, 2011).[73] Unlike Dove's long running beauty campaign Lynx advertising often creates mini series' of advertisements based around a singular product rather than communicating an overarching idea. This advertising campaign thrives on controversy. Using images which the company knows will receive complaints about garners the brand more free publicity and notoriety. A wide variety of these adverts have been banned in countries around the world. In 2012 Lynx's 'Clean Balls' advert was banned. This advert designed for television, shows an attractive young woman cleaning various sport balls. In 2011 in the UK Lynx's shower gel campaign was banned. The poster for Lynx shower gel showed a woman in a bikini under a shower at a beach, with the headline: "The cleaner you are the dirtier you get."[73] The same year Lynx's Full control advertising campaign was banned. It related nervous sweating to premature ejaculation. In 2014, Lynx was forced to drop its American Super Bowl ad for its 'Dry' Product.

Dove: Dove describes itself as a company dedicated to "help ... women develop a positive relationship with the way they look – helping them raise their self-esteem and realize their full potential". (Dove, "Our Vision") [70] Dove employs the use of advertising for their own products to display their messages of positive self-esteem. In September 2004 Dove created a Real Beauty campaign, focusing predominately on women of all shapes and colour. Later in 2007 this campaign furthered itself to include women of all ages. This campaign consisted mostly of advertisements, shown on television and popularised by the internet. Dove fell under scrutiny from the general public as they felt the Dove advertisements described the opinion that cellulite was still unsightly, and that women's aging process was something to be ashamed of.[71]

Unilever owns both of the toiletries companies Dove and Lynx. Soon after the release of Dove’s Real Beauty campaign in 2004 it was compared to Lynx’s style of advertising which gained Unilever scrutiny over its hypocritical and opposing ideas to advertising.


The current Unilever corporate logo was introduced in 2004 and was designed by the brand consultancy Wolff Olins. It is composed of 25 icons woven together to create a U shape, with each icon representing one of the company's sub-brands or its corporate values.[68] The brand identity was developed around the idea of "adding vitality to life."[69]

Unilever's highest executive body is the Unilever Leadership Executive, which is led by the Chief Executive (currently Paul Polman).

Senior management

There are a series of legal agreements between the parent companies, together with special provisions in their respective Articles of Association, which are known as the Foundation Agreements.[67] A key requirement of the agreements is that the same people be on the Boards of the two parent companies. An Equalisation Agreement regulates the mutual rights of shareholders in Unilever plc and Unilever N.V. with the objective of ensuring that, in principle, it does not make any financial difference to hold shares in Unilever plc rather than Unilever N.V. (and vice versa).[67]

Unilever has two holding companies: Unilever N.V., which has its registered and head office in Rotterdam, Netherlands and Unilever plc, which has its registered office at Port Sunlight in Merseyside, United Kingdom and its head office at Unilever House in London, United Kingdom.[67] Unilever plc and Unilever N.V. and their subsidiary companies operate as nearly as practicable as a single economic entity, whilst remaining separate legal entities with different shareholders and separate stock exchange listings.[67]

100 Victoria Embankment, Unilever House in London, United Kingdom

Legal structure

Corporate affairs

Unilever's Standard Industrial Classification codes are 10890: Manufacture of other food products n.e.c., 10410: Manufacture of oils and fats, 10420: Manufacture of margarine and similar edible fats.[66]

Unilever's current largest-selling brands include: Axe/Lynx; Ben & Jerry's; Dove; Flora/Becel; Heartbrand; Hellmann's/Best Foods; Knorr; Lipton; Lux/Radox; Omo/Surf; Rexona/Sure; Sunsilk; Toni & Guy;[64][65] TRESemmé; Magnum and VO5.

Unilever's products include foods, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products. The company owns more than 400 brands, which are organized into four main categories - Foods, Refreshments, Home Care, and Personal Care.


Unilever's largest international competitors are Nestlé and Procter & Gamble.[63] It also faces competition in local markets or specific product ranges from numerous companies, including Beiersdorf, ConAgra, Danone, Henkel, Mars, Pepsico, Reckitt Benckiser and S. C. Johnson & Son.

Unilever is one of the largest media buyers in the world, and invested around €6 billion (US$8 billion) in advertising and promotion in 2010.[61][62]

Unilever is organised into four main divisions: Personal Care (production and sale of skin care and hair care products, deodorants and oral care products); Foods (production and sale of soups, bouillons, sauces, snacks, mayonnaise, salad dressings, margarines and spreads); Refreshment (production and sale of ice cream, tea-based beverages, weight-management products and nutritionally enhanced staples sold in developing markets); and Home Care (production and sale of home care products including powders, liquids and capsules, soap bars and other cleaning products).[60] In the financial year ended 31 December 2013, Unilever had a total turnover of €49.797 billion of which 36% was from Personal Care, 27% from Foods, 19% from Refreshment and 18% from Home Care.[60] Unilever invested a total of €1.04 billion in research and development in 2013.[60]

Unilever is multinational with operating companies and factories on every continent except Antarctica and research laboratories in: Colworth and Port Sunlight, England; Vlaardingen, Netherlands; Connecticut and New Jersey, United States; Bangalore, India; and Shanghai, China. It has subsidiaries in almost 100 countries. Notable Unilever subsidiaries include Hindustan Unilever, in which Unilever holds a 67% controlling share.


In October 2015, Unilever successfully agreed to acquire premium Italian ice cream maker GROM for an undisclosed fee.[59]

By mid-2015 spread-type products, such as the Flora and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! brands, will have been split, though not spun off, into a standalone entity due to declining worldwide sales in the product category.[6] The unit will be led by Sean Gogarty, currently an Executive Vice President, and will be called "the Unilever Baking, Cooking and Spreading Company".[6] On 2 March 2015: Unilever announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire REN Skincare, the iconic British skincare brand. On 6 May 2015: Unilever announced that it has acquired leading independent prestige skincare brand, Kate Somerville Skincare LLC.


Eat Drink Politics headlined the controversy with "Unilever's Bullying Backfires, Boosts Hampton Creek. Negative media coverage of Big Mayo lawsuit goes viral in case study of PR blunder".[53]

The Washington Post[56] headline on the suit read, "Big Food's Weird War Over The Meaning of Mayonnaise." The Los Angeles Times[57] began its story with "Big Tobacco, Big Oil, now Big Mayo?" A Wall Street Journal writer described that suit with "Giant corporation generates huge quantities of free advertising and brand equity for tiny rival by suing it."[58]

In November 2014, Unilever was the subject of a media backlash[53] due to its lawsuit against rival Hampton Creek. In its suit,[54] Unilever revealed that Hampton Creek is "seizing market share" and the losses are causing Unilever "irreparable harm." Unilever used standard of identity regulations in claiming that Hampton Creek's "Just Mayo" products are falsely advertised because they don't contain eggs.[55]

Hampton Creek lawsuit

On 21 February 2014 Unilever signed a definitive agreement for the sale of its meat snacks business, including Peperami (UK/Ireland) and BIFI (continental Europe) to Jack Link’s, for an undisclosed amount.[48] In March 2014 Unilever agreed to acquire a majority stake in the China-based water purification company Qinyuan, which makes water purifiers, drinking water equipment and water treatment membranes, for an undisclosed price.[49][50] On 22 May 2014 the company announced it had sold its North America pasta sauces business including the Ragú and Bertolli brands to Japanese company Mizkan in a deal worth $2.15 billion.[51] On 10 July 2014 Unilever announced that it has sold its Slim-Fast brand to Kainos Capital. Unilever will retain a minority stake in the business.[52] On 2 December 2014: Unilever announced that it has acquired Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto. Minneapolis-based Talenti, which was founded in 2003, has grown into the best selling packaged gelato in the United States. On 22 December 2014: Unilever announced the purchase of the Camay brand globally and the Zest brand outside of North America and the Caribbean from The Procter & Gamble Company. The brands had a turnover of $225 million in the last fiscal year.

In January 2013, Unilever agreed to sell the Skippy peanut butter brand, together with related manufacturing facilities in Little Rock, Arkansas, United States and Weifang, Shandong, China, to Hormel Foods for approximately $700 million (£433 million, or approximately €540 million) in cash.[43][44] In July 2013 Unilever increased its stake in its Indian unit, Hindustan Unilever, to 67% for around €2.45 billion.[45] On 12 August 2013 Unilever announced that it had signed an agreement for the sale of its Wish-Bone and Western dressings brands to Pinnacle Foods Inc. for a total cash consideration of approximately US$580 million, subject to regulatory approval.[46] On 6 September 2013 Unilever entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the premium Australian tea brand T2.[47]

On 27 December 2012 it was announced the Unilever is phasing out the use of microplastics in their personal care products by 2015.[42]

In March 2011 it was announced that Unilever had entered into a binding agreement to sell the Sanex brand to Colgate-Palmolive for €672 million, and that Unilever would acquire Colgate-Palmolive's laundry detergent brands in Colombia (Fab, Lavomatic and Vel) for US$215 million.[38] In April 2011 Unilever was fined €104 million by the European Commission for establishing a price-fixing cartel in Europe along with P&G, who was fined €211.2 million, and Henkel (not fined). Though the fine was set higher at first, it was discounted by 10% after Unilever and P&G admitted running the cartel. As the provider of the tip-off leading to investigations, Henkel was not fined.[39] On 24 August 2011 it was announced that Unilever had agreed to sell the Alberto VO5 brand in the United States and Puerto Rico, and the Rave brand globally, to Brynwood Partners VI L.P.[40] On 14 October 2011 it was announced that Unilever had agreed to acquire 82% of the Russia-based beauty company Kalina.[41]

On 9 August 2010 Unilever signed an asset purchase agreement with the Norwegian dairy group TINE, to acquire the activities of Diplom-Is in Denmark.[33] On 24 September 2010 Unilever announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to sell its consumer tomato products business in Brazil to Cargill.[34] On 27 September 2010 Unilever purchased Alberto-Culver, a maker of personal care and household products including Simple, VO5, Nexxus, TRESemmé, and Mrs. Dash, for US$3.7 billion.[35] On 28 September 2010 Unilever and EVGA announced that they had signed an agreement under which Unilever would acquire EVGA’s ice cream brands (amongst others, Scandal, Variete and Karabola) and distribution network in Greece, for an undisclosed amount.[36] In February 2011 Unilever announced that it will switch to 100% cage-free eggs for all products it produces worldwide.[37]


In September 2009 Unilever agreed to acquire the personal care business of Sara Lee Corporation, including brands such as Radox, Badedas and Duschdas, strengthening its category leadership in skin cleansing and deodorants.[31] The Sara Lee acquisition was completed on 6 December 2010.[32]

In May 2007 Unilever became the first large-scale company to commit to sourcing all its tea in a sustainable manner,[28] employing the Rainforest Alliance, an international environmental NGO, to certify its tea estates in East Africa, as well as third-party suppliers in Africa and other parts of the world.[29] It declared its aim to have all Lipton Yellow Label and PG Tips tea bags sold in Western Europe certified by 2010, followed by all Lipton tea bags globally by 2015.[30]

Also in 2002 Unilever sold the Mazola, Argo & Kingsfords, Karo, Golden Griddle, and Henri’s brands, along with several Canadian brands, to ACH Food Companies, an American subsidiary of Associated British Foods.[26][27]

In September 2002, the company sold its specialty oils and fats division, Loders Croklaan, for RM814 million (€218.5 million) to IOI Corporation, a Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia-based oil palm company. As part of the deal, the Loders Croklaan brand will be maintained.

2001 Unilever was split into two divisions: one for Foods and one for Home and Personal Care.[24]
In April 2000 Unilever bought both Ben & Jerry's and Slim Fast for £1.63 billion.[24] Later that year, the company acquired Best Foods for £13.4 billion.[24] The Bestfoods acquisition increased Unilever's scale in foods in America, and added brands such as Knorr and Hellmann's to its portfolio.[24] The transaction was the second largest cash acquisition in world business history.[24] In exchange for European regulatory approval of the deal, Unilever divested itself of such well-known brands as Oxo, Royco and Batchelors.[24] The same year the company bought worldwide mustard and products firm Maille. Maille had three boutiques in Europe, all of which sell mustard from the pump in the traditional Maille fashion. Paris, Dijon, France and London, UK.
Global employment at Unilever 2000–08
Black represents employment numbers in Europe, light grey represents the Americas and dark grey represents Asia and Africa.
Between 2000 and 2008 Unilever reduced global workforce numbers by 41%, from 295,000 to 174,000.
Notes: Europe figures for 2000–2003 are all Europe; from 2004 figures in black are Western Europe. For 2004–2008 figures for Asia and Africa include Eastern and Central Europe.
Source: Unilever Annual Reports 2004, 2008


Unilever established a sustainable agriculture programme in 1998.[25]

In 1997 Unilever sold its speciality chemicals division, including National Starch & Chemical, Quest, Unichema and Crosfield to Akzo for £4.9 billion.[24]

In 1996 Unilever merge Elida Gibbs and Lever Brothers in its UK operations.[23] It also purchased Helene Curtis, significantly expanding its presence in the United States shampoo and deodorant market.[21] The purchase brought Unilever the Suave and Finesse hair-care product brands and Degree deodorant brand.[21]

In 1993 Unilever acquired Breyers from Philip Morris, which made the company the largest ice cream manufacturer in the United States.[22]

The US division carried the Lever Brothers name until the 1990s, when it adopted that of the parent company. The American unit has headquarters in New Jersey, and no longer maintains a presence at Lever House, a skyscraper on Park Avenue in New York City.


In 1984 Unilever acquired Brooke Bond (maker of PG Tips tea) for £390 million in the company's first successful hostile takeover.[12] In 1986 Unilever strengthened its position in the world skin care market by acquiring Chesebrough-Ponds (merged from Chesebrough Manufacturing and Pond's Creams), the maker of Ragú, Pond's, Aqua-Net, Cutex, and Vaseline in another hostile takeover.[20] In 1989, Unilever bought Calvin Klein Cosmetics, Fabergé, and Elizabeth Arden, but the latter was later sold (in 2000) to FFI Fragrances.[21]

By the end of the 1970s, through acquisitions, Unilever had gained 30 percent of the Western European ice cream market.[12] In 1982 Unilever management decided to reposition itself from an unwieldy conglomerate to a more concentrated FMCG company.[20]


By the mid-1960s laundry soap and edible fats still contributed around half of Unilever's corporate profits.[12] However a stagnant market for yellow fats and increasing competition in detergents and soaps from Procter & Gamble forced Unilever to diversify.[12] In 1971, Unilever acquired the British-based Lipton Ltd from Allied Suppliers.[12] In 1978, National Starch was acquired for $487 million, marking the largest ever foreign-acquisition of a US company at that point.[19]

Sunsilk was first launched in the UK in 1954.[16] Dove was first launched in the US in 1957.[16] Unilever took full ownership of Frosted Foods in 1957, which it renamed Birds Eye.[17] The US-based Good Humor ice cream business was acquired in 1961.[18]


After 1945 Unilever's once successful US businesses (Lever Brothers and T.J. Lipton) began to decline.[1] As a result, Unilever began to operate a "hands off" policy towards the subsidiaries, and left American management to its own devices.[1]

In the 1930s business grew and new ventures were launched in Africa and Latin America. The Nazi occupation of Europe during the Second World War meant that Unilever was unable to reinvest its capital into Europe, so it instead acquired new businesses in the UK and the US.[14] In 1943 it acquired T. J. Lipton, a majority stake in Frosted Foods (owner of the Birds Eye brand) and Batchelors Peas, one of the largest vegetables canners in the UK.[12][15] In 1944, Pepsodent was acquired.[15]


In September 1929, Unilever was formed by a merger of the operations of British soapmaker Lever Brothers and Dutch margarine producer Margarine Unie.[13] The merger made sound commercial sense, as palm oil was a major raw material for both margarines and soaps, and could be imported more efficiently in larger quantities.

In 1922 Lever Brothers acquired Mac Fisheries, owner of T. Wall & Sons.[12]


The initial harvesting of palm oil was from British West Africa, from where news reports seen back in England showed the workers abroad in favourable conditions.[10] In 1911, the company received a concession for 750,000 hectares of forest in Belgian Congo, mostly south of Bandundu, where a system of forced labour operated.[11]

Lever House in Port Sunlight, United Kingdom, the former headquarters of Lever Brothers




  • History 1
    • 1910s–1920s 1.1
    • 1920s–1930s 1.2
    • 1930s–1940s 1.3
    • 1950s–1960s 1.4
    • 1970s–1980s 1.5
    • 1990s 1.6
    • 2000s 1.7
    • 2010–2014 1.8
      • Hampton Creek lawsuit 1.8.1
    • 2015–2019 1.9
  • Operations 2
  • Products 3
  • Corporate affairs 4
    • Legal structure 4.1
    • Senior management 4.2
  • Logo 5
  • Advertising 6
  • Environmental record 7
    • Palm oil 7.1
    • Paper use 7.2
    • Rainforest Alliance 7.3
    • Criticism 7.4
    • Kodaikanal 7.5
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Unilever N.V. has a primary listing on Euronext Amsterdam and is a constituent of the AEX index. Unilever plc has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. The company is also a component of the Euro Stoxx 50 stock market index.[9]

Unilever was founded in 1930 by the merger of the Dutch margarine producer Margarine Unie and the British soapmaker Lever Brothers. During the second half of the 20th century the company increasingly diversified from being a maker of products made of oils and fats, and expanded its operations worldwide. It has made numerous corporate acquisitions, including Lipton (1971), Brooke Bond (1984), Chesebrough-Ponds (1987), Best Foods and Ben & Jerry's (2000), and Alberto-Culver (2010). Unilever divested its speciality chemicals businesses to ICI in 1997. In the 2010s, under leadership of Paul Polman, the company gradually shifted its focus toward health and beauty brands and away from food brands showing slow growth.[6]

Head office Unilever N.V. Rotterdam, Netherlands


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