UK: Unilever revamps flagship spreads brand Flora
Unilever has decided to relaunch its Flora brand in the UK after developing technology it claims will create a better-tasting product.
The consumer goods giant will sell revamped Flora Original and Flora Light spreads that it believes contain more flavour.
Unilever said a new "cool-blending process" preserves the "natural goodness" of the linseeds, as well as the canola and sunflower seeds, used in the recipe for Flora. Consumers, the company said, "no longer accept products that have excellent nutritional values but lack flavour".
Alastair McKerrow, brand manager for Flora in the UK, said: "The growing consumer demand for healthy, delicious products led us to make the significant investment in Flora Original and Flora Light, with both new products comparing favourably on taste in consumer research as well as boasting 80% less saturated fat than butter."
Unilever is spending GBP10m on a marketing campaign for the revamped Flora that will look to encourage consumers to use the spread in sandwiches.
"We'll be focusing on tapping into the lunchtime in-home and lunchbox sandwich occasions, where the opportunity for growth is strongest," McKerrow added.
Unilever has faced questions over the future of its spreads business in the last year.
In March, Unilever CEO Paul Polman said the company, which also owns the Becel brand, would look to "optimise" the business and told just-food it would focus on "accelerating" growth in North America and Europe.
However, analysts continued to speculate that Unilever could sell its spreads business, although there has been an acknowledgement that finding a buyer of such a sizeable asset could be difficult.
There have been indications of an up-and-down year for Unilever's spreads business.
In November, Unilever said sales from its savoury, dressings and spreads division increased 5.4% in the first nine months of 2011. However, the growth was driven by price increases; volumes fell 0.2%.
Unilever, looking at the third quarter, said spreads volumes were "weak" due to moves to push up prices to offset higher input costs. In August, Unilever had noted signs of "recovery" in spreads volumes in the second quarter after a fall in volumes in the first three months of 2011.
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