Weak Tea at Unilever Persists Amid Innovation at Rivals

 In International

Unilever (UNA) Chief Executive Officer Paul Polman has revived ice cream, skin care, and other parts of his company’s sprawling consumer-product business since taking the helm in 2009, yet one category remains a sore spot. Call it the tempest in tea.
Unilever’s tea business — which includes Lipton, the world’s second-biggest beverage brand behind Coca-Cola — has suffered from a lack of attention, investment and innovation compared with categories like deodorants and shampoos. The volume of sales for the business unit that includes tea has declined in three of the past four quarters.
Despite ads featuring hip-hop artist Eminem, Lipton has surrendered its top spot in the U.S. ready-to-drink tea market, where Unilever operates a joint venture with PepsiCo Inc. (PEP) In the U.K., Unilever’s market-leading PG brand has suffered as Britons ditch black tea for coffeehouse lattes or green and herbal teas. Bloomberg Businessweek – Read more…

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