The “sustainable living brands”, which contribute to the goals the company set out in 2010 as part of its 10 year Sustainable Living Plan, are seeing above average growth according to the company, with high single and double digit sales over the past three years.
The FMCG giant claims that the plan is “driving growth, cost efficiency and resilience for the future” and added that the company is on track to meet most of its goals, which include the likes of helping people improve their health and wellbeing, halving its environmental footprint from its products and making 100% of its agricultural raw materials sustainably sources.
In a four-year progress review of the plan, Unilever announced initiatives to bring more of its brands, including Omo, Persil, Vaseline and Sunlight, under the sustainable portfolio this year as it continues to drive “brands with purpose”.
Unilever CEO Paul Polman said: “In a volatile world of growing social inequality, rising population, development challenges and climate change, the need for businesses to adapt is clear, as are the benefits and opportunities.
“Consumers are recognising this too, increasingly demanding responsible business and responsible brands,” he added.
The move will see Omo and Persil involved in the “Preparing Children for Tomorrow” initiative to help children have access to education, while Vaseline will partner with international NGO Direct Relief to help heal the skin of people living in vulnerable situations.
It will also see the company’s oldest brand, Sunlight, scale up its partnership with Oxfam to reduce the time women spend finding and carrying clean water.
“Our experience is that brands whose purpose and products respond to that demand – ‘sustainable living brands’ – are delivering stronger and faster growth,” Polman adds.
Meanwhile, the company claims it is on track to reach its goal of helping more than 1 billion people improve their health and wellbeing and has “enhanced the livelihoods of over 1 million people so far”, including helping and trainers farmers and providing women with access to training, support and skills.
It also says it has achieved its target of zero non-hazardous waste to landfill across its factory network, and is “making significant reductions in CO2 from energy and water in manufacturing”.
More than 55% of its agricultural raw materials are also now sustainably sourced, ahead of its target to reach 100% by 2020.
Unilever was ranked number one in its sector in the 2014 Dow Jones Sustainability Index and led the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in the 2014 GlobeScan/SustainAbility annual survey for the fourth year running.
In 2015 it was also ranked the most sustainable food and beverage company in Oxfam’s Behind the Brands Scorecard.