Published: 07/02/2013

Sales of Unilever’s premium Magnum ice cream now top €1 billion, elevating it to the status of “power brand”. Speaking with analysts following the announcement of the company’s strongly positive 2012 results, Polman said.  “It’s one of the greatest success stories in the history of consumer goods. Perhaps not sexy for many, but certainly should be sexy for our investors. And we increasingly have taken their opportunity and their confidence to launch our ice cream business in the emerging markets” where “there is a whole year ice cream environment. That business doesn’t need to be seasonal.”

It is not only in emerging markets that ice cream sales continue to grow, regardless of the season.

Unilever has overtaken Nestlé as the world’s largest ice cream maker, with more than 20% of the USD 85 billion global market. Ice cream sales now make up over 15% of Unilever’s revenue, with strong year-round growth in North America.

So if ice cream sales are increasingly less dependent on the seasons, why are there so many precarious jobs in the company’s ice cream operations – justified in the name of “seasonality”? Unions too need to take their “opportunity” to fight for permanent jobs in this expanding and highly profitable business.

Improving living standards for dairy cows is a laudable objective, but where are sustainable jobs and improved living standards for those who manufacture ice cream in this scheme?