Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Unilever sees M&A opportunities, need for sustainable agenda

  • October 14, 2009
  • Daniel Palmer

Consumer products giant Unilever believes acquisition opportunities will present themselves in the coming year as consolidation in the CPG sector continues apace.”Times are good right now” for purchasers, CEO Paul Polman said on the sidelines of an IGD conference in London, according to Bloomberg. “There are good brands out there. We’ll see even more consolidation than before.”

Mr Polman indicated that his company was likely to be a major player in consolidation as they were “always looking” at takeover opportunities.

Unilever, the owner of the Streets, Lipton and Dove brands, last month announced their first major acquisition in years - a A$2.05 billion purchase of the Sara Lee personal care division. And, while that was a move that took up most of their acquisition budget this year, there are still possibilities for further purchases.

SustainabilityIn his speech at the conference Mr Polman touched on a need for greater sustainability in the food supply chain.

“It is no longer enough to rely on eco-efficiency programmes in our factories, video conferencing facilities to reduce travel or simply carbon offsetting schemes,” he told delegates. “Important though they are, they will not bring about the level of change that is needed.”

Mr Polman said his company was making strides forward in sustainability, but admitted that an overhaul of operations would take time.

“We’re taking big initiatives in our agricultural supply chain,” he advised. “We are publicly committed to sustainable tea and sustainable palm oil and we have plans to ensure that all of our crops will be sustainably cultivated by 2015.”

His call for a sustainability agenda for the food industry comes as forecasts show that food production may need to increase by more than 70 per cent by 2050.