Unilever contributes more than $180 million to tackle COVID-19

Measures will include donations of soap, sanitiser, bleach and food, and upping the production of these necessities, as well as early payment and financial assistance to suppliers

Unilever, the manufacturer of brands including Dove, Rexona, Lifebuoy, TRESemme, OMO, Surf, Streets and Continental, has announced a wide-ranging set of measures to support global and national efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unilever will contribute approximately $182 million to help the fight against the pandemic. Measures will include donations of soap, sanitiser, bleach and food, and upping the production of these necessities, as well as early payment and financial assistance to suppliers, and aim to help protect the lives and livelihoods of its multiple stakeholders, including its consumers and communities, its customers and suppliers, and its workforce.

Unilever will undertake a product donation of soaps and sanitiser of at least $91 million to the COVID Action Platform of the World Economic Forum, which is supporting global health organisations and agencies with their response to the emergency. Unilever will also adapt its current manufacturing lines to produce sanitiser for use in hospitals, schools and other institutional settings.

In Australia and New Zealand, Unilever said its factories are operating 24/7 to help keep shelves across Australia and New Zealand stocked with essential food, personal care and cleaning products. Unilever donated Dove soap to the NSW Department of Education for distribution to schools experiencing shortages due to stockpiling, and provided funding to help Foodbank NSW and ACT employ paid casuals in lieu of corporate volunteer groups that have been cancelled due to new social distancing rules. 

In addition, Unilever will offer approximately $912 million of cashflow relief to support livelihoods across its extended value chain, through: Early payment for its most vulnerable small and medium sized suppliers, to help them with financial liquidity, and extending credit to selected small-scale retail customers whose business relies on Unilever, to help them manage and protect jobs.

Unilever also announced it will protect its workforce from sudden drops in pay, as a result of market disruption or being unable to perform their role, for up to three months. 

Unilever CEO, Alan Jope, said the FMCG giant is deeply saddened by the terrible impact that coronavirus is wreaking on lives and livelihoods everywhere. 

“The world is facing its greatest trial in decades. We have seen the most incredible response from the Unilever team so far, especially those on the front line of our operations in factories, distribution centres and stores," he said.

“We hope that our donation of €100m of soap, sanitiser, bleach and food will make a significant contribution towards protecting people’s lives, and that by helping to safeguard our workers’ incomes and jobs, we are giving some peace of mind during these uncertain times. Our strong cash flow and balance sheet mean that we can, and should, give this additional support.”

Unilever Australia and New Zealand CEO, Clive Stiff, said Australia and New Zealand are nations that have overcome a lot over the past year. 

“What we have learnt during this challenging period is that it is imperative we work together as a community. Our factories are operating 24/7 to try keep shelves stocked with essential food, personal care and cleaning products," he said.

“We are also working around the clock with our partners, customers, industry groups and government to identify ways our business can contribute to national efforts in tackling the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. We will fight this together.”

Unilever’s donation of soap, sanitiser, food and bleach is based on the equivalent retail sales value.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.  

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