Unilever commits to support Philippine growth

Marianne V. Go - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Unilever global chief executive officer Paul Polman reiterated yesterday the firm’s commitment to support the inclusive business agenda of the Philippine government.

The Unilever executive paid a courtesy call yesterday on President Aquino in Malacañang where they discussed the company’s investments plans in the Philippines for the next six to 10 years.

The plan seeks to generate employment for some 7,000 to 8,000 Filipino workers and income for local farmers through the company’s thrust of increasing its agricultural sourcing locally under its “sustainable living program.”

In a talk with newsmen, Polman said they also talked about the possibility of helping some 30,000 coconut farmers by increasing Unilever’s local sourcing of coconut oil.

Unilever’s current requirement for coconut oil is for its Knorr coconut milk or “gata” product line.

The global food and consumer care giant already sources 100 percent  of its tamarind  or “sampalok” raw material for its Knorr “sinigang” or sour broth mix from the Philippines.

It wants to be able to source all of its coconut oil requirement from local farmers, resulting in a more sustainable supply and assuring a more stable income for the farmers.

Polman confirmed that the company is allotting a little more than 100 million euros or $120 million over the next six to 10 years to expand and upgrade its manufacturing operations in the Philippines.

However, Polman pointed out that Unilever’s additional investments in the country could easily be double that amount in terms of the company’s other investments for training, marketing, advertising and promotion, and corporate social responsibility work and environmental advocacy.

The additional investment to upgrade and expand its manufacturing capacity would involve its facilities located in Manila and its 10-hectare Cavite Gateway property which is only about 20 percent built-up.

Although Polman had discussed with President Aquino the possibility of  setting up a global shared services facility, he clarified that the plan is still under study.

Polman pointed out that Unilever already has several such facilities located in other countries such as India and in Europe and could thus not be easily moved.

The Unilever CEO reiterated the company’s commitment to the Philippines which it considers an important market due to its strong consumption growth.

“We have been in the country for 100 years and will be here for a couple more hundred years,” Polman assured.


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