LONDON — Unilever P.L.C.’s Food and Refreshment business posted sluggish results during the second quarter of 2019. The unit generated sales of €5.5 billion ($6.1 billion) during the quarter. Underlying sales growth rose 1%, according to the company, while underlying volume growth fell 0.6%. Management cited challenges in developed markets and volatile weather that impacted the company’s ice cream business as reasons for the unit’s performance.
Overall, Unilever quarterly sales totaled €13.7 billion ($15.3 billion), and the company saw sales grow 3.5% and volume grow 1.2%. The company’s Home Care and Beauty and Personal Care units performed well during the quarter.
“Growth in our markets was mixed,” said Alan Jope, chief executive officer. “Market growth in Europe and North America was held back by the impact of weather on ice cream sales. In the emerging markets we continued to see good momentum particularly in China and Southeast Asia. India saw strong market growth, though it moderated, as expected. Argentina remains hyperinflationary, and high levels of pricing continue to weigh on consumer demand.”
Mr. Jope added that the slowdown in ice cream sales was more pronounced during April and May in Europe and during May in North America.
“Despite the relatively poor weather, our ice cream business grew globally at 2%,” he said during a conference call with analysts on July 25. The company’s savory businesses, which include bouillons, side dishes and dressings experienced modest growth during the quarter.
In North America, Unilever’s sales grew 0.1% during the quarter, with price growth of 0.7% offset by volume growth of 0.5%, according to Graeme David Pitkethly, chief financial officer.
“This is in the context of a weakening market in the last 12 weeks and an expected G.D.P. slowdown amidst trade tensions,” he said.
For the first half of 2019, Unilever’s sales were €26.1 billion. Food and Refreshment sales totaled €10 billion during the period, with sales growing 1.3% and volume falling 0.1%.