Unilever Recognizes Suppliers' Excellence

Unilever staged its largest supplier meeting ever, held in Singapore, with its Partner to Win Supplier Summit 2013. Over 350 representatives from Unilever’s strategic supplier partners attended the summit with a program of activity aimed at deepening relationships to drive consistently sustainable growth for Unilever globally while helping unlock more of the potential of developing and emerging markets.

Sales from developing markets represented 55% of Unilever’s business in 2012 with future growth likely to be driven by regions such as Southeast Asia. Unilever recognizes that continuing commitment through a strong program of investment must, however, be coupled with a corresponding growth in sustainable supply chain capacity.

Speakers at the summit included Unilever CEO Paul Polman and Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang, as well as Harish Manwani, Unilever COO.

Pier Luigi Sigismondi, Unilever's chief supply chain officer, addressing delegates, said the theme of "Winning Together" was key to growth for Unilever and all those present at the event. “Our business has grown by €10 billion since 2009 despite the challenging economic conditions. This has been made possible through the investment our strategic supplier partners have made in increased capacity, innovation delivery and sustainable solutions together with Unilever.”

Specialist chemical company Clariant was cited as an example at the Singapore event. Winners of a Unilever 2013 Partner to Win Award, Clariant partnered with Unilever to create an instant whitening effect on cotton fabrics after the first wash.

“Strong partnerships with suppliers that share our sustainable growth ambitions are critical to continuing success. Our goal is to become the customer of choice for them,” said Sigismondi.

The move to deepen supplier relationships will be formalized with the signing of further individual Joint Business Development Plans with strategic suppliers. These plans set out a clear framework of how suppliers and Unilever will work together to deliver sustainable growth over the long term. Unilever is investing in developing and emerging markets, including more than 50 new factory and warehouse facilities, to deliver Unilever’s sustainable growth ambitions. Unilever is also investing in its people and has opened a €44 million, state-of-the-art training facility in Singapore.

At the summit, Unilever also hosted the 2013 Partner to Win Awards to celebrate and recognize suppliers who have made a winning contribution in the areas of innovation, sustainability, joint value creation, capacity and capability building, as well as world-class service through operational Excellence, and an award for outstanding contribution was also made.

Among the winners for innovation were Dow Chemicals, which worked with Unilever to develop a special polymer that delivers a consumer-perceptible soft skin feel, a unique technology deployed in Lifebuoy in India and resulted in double digit growth; Lindal for co-developing an aerosol valve that allows product concentration in the Sure, Dove and Vaseline brand deodorants; and BASF for partnering with Unilever to develop the next generation of fabric clean liquids and unit dose capsules.

Winners for sustainability included Varun Agro Professing Foods; Tata Chemicals Limited, for work in laundry care; and Central Edible Oils (CEOCo), which delivered some of the world’s first volumes of sustainable sunflower oil from local farmers in South Africa.

Awarded in joint value creation were Borouge, which worked with Unilever on flexible packaging for laundry products; Wacker Silicones, helped Unilever to significantly reduce the cost for silicone emulsions for hair care products by expanding capacities and developing affordable cost-effective solutions from its site in India; and Clariant International, which worked together with Unilever to creat an instant whitening effect on cotton fabrics after the first wash for laundry care.

For winning capacity and capability building, Unilever awarded Giant Foods for supply chain work; Exal Group for partnering with Unilever to develop an aluminium deodorant can factory in Argentina; and Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK), for its investments in supporting Unilever’s growth by creating capacities in Southeast Asia, across a broad spectrum of surfactants and oleo-chemicals.

Winning for world class service through operational excellence, Accenture and Salesforce shared the award for jointly developing and ensuring the agile delivery of market-leading social collaboration technology, a platform that connects Unilever’s 7,500 marketers and provides applications for sharing creative assets and ideas; as well as Manuchar, a global partner for bulk inorganic chemicals used in laundry powders, and Maersk for being the top performer in container sea freight.

Additionally, AHT Cooling Systems GmbH Austria & IARP SRL were given a special contribution awards for ice cream refrigeration.

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