Unilever, being highly optimistic, has recently announced a Euro 3 billion (US$3.6 billion) share buyback as it is confident of hitting its sales targets this year, all thanks to rising demand from China and home cooking.
Unilever joined its major counterparts Nestle and P&G in reporting strong sales for food and cleaning products amidst the pandemic.
In the 1st quarter 2021, Unilever reported 5.7% growth in sales, and it expects further growth for the rest of the year as the company is also reviewing its product prices with the rise in raw material prices (inflation).
It was estimated that 60% of its sales revenue came from emerging markets which saw its sales grew 9.4%. Markets like China and India grew at double-digits during the review period. In China particularly there is a strong return of sales to cafes and restaurants.
Unilever’s food and refreshments business whose brands include Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Knorr soups, jumped 9.8% in the quarter, helped by strong demand for home consumption in North America and Europe.
Although there is a surge of infections sweeping India, one of its key market, the group has not seen any material impact on its business so far.
Unilever expects further growth going into the 2nd quarter 2021. Unilever is also focusing on high-growth categories such as plant-based foods, beauty products and nutritional supplements, and aim to appeal more to younger consumers. The group’s priority now is to grow existing businesses, rather than make acquisitions.