Fri 09 February 2024:
Britain’s Unilever said on Thursday that fourth-quarter sales growth in south-east Asia had been hurt by shoppers in Indonesia boycotting brands of multinational companies “in response to the geopolitical situation in the Middle East,” Reuters has reported.
The maker of Dove soap, Knorr stock cubes and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is among several Western brands that have seen protests and boycott campaigns against them — particularly in countries with large Muslim populations — over their perceived pro-Israel stance.
McDonald’s this week posted its first quarterly sales miss in nearly four years, partly due to the Israeli offensive against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank. The company said that the situation had “meaningfully impacted” performance in some overseas markets.
In Indonesia, home to more than 200 million Muslims, Unilever’s fourth-quarter sales declined by double-digits, the company said. “There has since been some improvement to customer and consumer uptake in January,” it added.
Unilever CEO Hein Schumacher said the company was otherwise “not seeing material impacts to our supply chain” as a result of the Israel-Palestinian issue and related attacks on vessels linked to Israel in the Red Sea.
“There are some small interruptions obviously for some key ingredients and on shipping and so forth, so there’s some delay but I wouldn’t call it material,” Schumacher said on a call with journalists. “We are working with big forwarders and carriers and I’m aware of them taking longer routes.” He pointed out that much of Unilever’s products and materials are sourced locally and regionally to where they’re sold.
Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s board last month called for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. The brand announced in July 2021 that it would stop sales in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and parts of East Jerusalem, saying selling ice cream in the occupied Palestinian territories was “inconsistent with our values.”
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