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Unilever says that brands with a passion for sustainability outperform the rest

Date: 5 May 2015

Paul Polman, CEO Unilever

Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever, has said that the company's brands which have the strongest commitment to sustainability as part of their overall brand identity have shown stronger sales growth than the rest. "These brands accounted for half the company's growth in 2014 and grew at twice the rate of the rest of the business," he said, showing that consumers are increasingly demanding socially responsible products.

Unilever brands singled out as leaders in the sustainability space include Dove, Lifebuoy, Ben & Jerry's and Comfort.

Unilever has been over recent years one of the most consistently ambitious in terms of the scale of its commitment to sustainability. It changed its overall mission to "making sustainable living commonplace" and cemented that aspiration with a detailed Unilever Sustainable Living Plan which it now describes as a key differentiator for the business. Polman has been a consistent and vocal champion of business responses to issues such as climate change and global poverty.

Polman has said that the company cannot achieve it's ambition to double in size unless it can find a way to "decouple growth from environmental impact." To achieve this, its plan sets three ambitious goals. The first is to help more than a billion people improve their health and wellbeing. The second, to halve the environmental footprint of the making and use of the company's products. And the third, to enhance the livelihood of millions of people and the company grows.

Although Unilever reports good progress on a number of its targets in the plan, it admits that reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water use are still presenting a difficult problem.

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