According to Unilever’s CEO, Alan Jope, global consumption patterns are expected to remain subdued in the first half of 2021. While East Asia has seen a return to normalcy and African and Latin American markets have shown resilience, Jope believes that a broader recovery in global consumption will only begin in the second half of the year and extend into the following year. As a result of the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Unilever withdrew its annual sales growth target in April. Jope remains cautious about making predictions regarding the company’s future business prospects.

Despite the cautious outlook, Jope is confident that Unilever will outperform the broader market and does not foresee any significant impact on profit margins in the near term. However, he is hesitant to provide specific numbers until the global situation stabilizes. Jope believes that Unilever will not face any major setbacks and will continue to adapt to changing consumer behaviors and market dynamics.

The pandemic has led to increased sales of packaged food for companies like Unilever, Nestle, and Kraft Heinz. However, Unilever has encountered challenges due to the decline in foods consumed in public places, such as beaches and restaurants.

Despite these difficulties, there are positive signs of progress. Jope highlighted that business in East Asia, particularly in Singapore and China, has returned to normal. Additionally, Africa and Latin America have shown strong resilience in terms of consumption, despite the rising number of Covid-19 cases.

Unilever is also focusing on reshaping its portfolio. However, Jope advised investors not to expect significant disposals in the beauty and personal care business. While there may be some clean-up of smaller brands in that sector, the overall impact will be minimal.

In conclusion, Unilever remains cautious about the future but is optimistic about its ability to navigate these challenging times. The company continues to adapt to changing consumer behaviors and market dynamics, ensuring that it remains competitive and meets the evolving needs of its customers.

Useful Links:
1. Unilever’s Responsible Business Commitments
2. Unilever’s Strategy and Vision