Consumer goods giant Unilever has detailed its global financial performance for 2014, revealing modest growth figures in what it described as “tougher markets”.
Underlying sales rose 2.9%, although turnover declined 2.7% to €48.4 billion ($56.1 billion) including a negative currency impact of 4.6%, the company said.
The firm reported a slowdown in growth in emerging countries, citing “economic pressures” which “impacted consumer demand”. Growth in these markets was 5.7% whilst developed markets contracted by 0.8%, with the company reporting that declines in Europe were partly offset by modest gains in North America.
In category terms, the performance of spreads adversely affected the company’s food business. The category declined due to lower consumer demand for margarine in Europe and North America, Unilever noted.
Commenting on the results, Unilever CEO Paul Polman said: “Despite a very challenging year for our industry with significant economic headwinds and weak markets we have delivered another year of competitive underlying sales growth and margin expansion. This consistency, now established over the last six years, has been achieved during a period of unprecedented volatility as we have built a more resilient company”.