Unilever has announced results for the third quarter of 2021, including underlying sales growth of 2.5%. This puts the company’s year-to-date underlying sales growth at 4.4%, well on track to be within the multi-year framework of 3-5% for the full year.

The results include a 4.1% growth in price, but a 1.5% decline in volume. The main source of that volume decline was South East Asia, which is still being hit hard by COVID.

Highlights include:
  • E-commerce grew 38% and is now 12% of company sales
  • Prestige Beauty and Functional Nutrition each grew double digits
  • Unilever completed the acquisition of digital-native skin care brand Paula’s Choice
In the U.S., the food solutions, functional nutrition, and Prestige Beauty businesses all contributed to growth, while in-home food and ice cream declined; the company is seeing a trend of increased eating out and more offline shopping. China, India, and Latin America markets all grew as well.

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Beauty & Personal Care grew 2.6%, with 3.9% from price and a 1.3% decline in volume. Growth was driven by skin care, deodorants, and hair care. Oral care declined.

Home care sales grew 1.4%, with negative 3.2% from volume and 4.8% from price. Fabric cleaning grew; there was a decline in demand for household cleaners, as sales are being compared to COVID, but the segment is still improved over pre-pandemic levels.

Foods & Refreshment underlying sales grew 3%, with 3.8% from price and a .8% volume decline. Out-of-home ice cream grew as in-home ice cream declined. Consumer demand for in-home food is still strong, although lower than it was last year.

“Cost inflation remains at strongly elevated levels, and this will continue into next year,” said CEO Alan Jope. “We have and will continue to respond across our categories and markets, taking appropriate pricing action and implementing a range of productivity measures to offset increased costs. We continue to expect that we will deliver in line with our margin guidance of around flat for the full year.”