U.S. sales help drive growth at Unilever

by Eric Schroeder
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ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS — Bertolli frozen meals and innovations in tea in the United States helped drive 3.2% underlying sales growth in the Americas at Unilever for the first quarter of 2007. Turnover in the Americas, however, fell 6% to €3,231 million ($4,382 million) from €3,418 million in the same period a year ago.

In the United States, sales grew nearly 4%, boosted by a full innovation program in personal care.

"Bertolli frozen meals and innovations in tea performed particularly well," Unilever said of its U.S. results. "However, sales in ice cream were lower, with further trade de-stocking as the market adjusts to a lower level of promotional activity. We have also lost some share in ice cream and our marketing plan is directed at correcting this."

Companywide, Unilever reported underlying sales growth of 5.7% and net profit from continuing operations of 5%. Share of net profit from joint ventures increased to €27 million from €18 million, mainly from good growth in partnerships between Lipton and Pepsi for ready-to-drink tea.

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