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More food disposals to come, says CEO Polman

7 December 2012 News
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Unilever CEO Paul Polman gave notice of more food disposals at the company's recent investor presentation in Paris (presentations here).

"You've seen us do divestitures, but there is still a little bit more to be done," said Polman.

Unilever workers have certainly seen the company do divestitures. According to a 2009 investor presentation

What this slide doesn't show is the approximately 75% reduction in the company's global brand portfolio over the period, the halving of the global workforce and the expansion of contract manufacturing and outsourcing.

In July this year, Unilever sold its North American prepared meals division to ConAgra for USD 265 million, a deal which included licensing of the Bertolli brand name which Unilever guards. Unilever's 2008 disposal of the Bertolli olive oil and vinegar business for USD 630 million was structured as a perpetual sale of the license for those products, but Unilever retained the trademark for margarine, pasta sauces and frozen foods.

Unilever has also signaled that it is searching for a buyer for its Skippy peanut butter. Ice cream, tea and beverages have, since last year, constituted a separate "refreshments" division distinct from food.

Unilever has a "Sustainable Living Program", but that program says nothing about sustainable investment, or sustainable employment. Unions should put this at the top of our sustainability agenda.