Unilever has reaffirmed its belief in the sustainable growth opportunities offered by emerging markets, despite increased uncertainty due to the global economic downturn.

Speaking at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) conference in Florida yesterday (17 February) Jim Lawrence, Unilever chief financial officer, emphasised that expanding its presence in developing and emerging (“D&E”) markets remains one of Unilever’s core growth strategies.

Unilever has a strong record of growth in emerging markets: over the last 20 years the company has seen annual organic growth of 9% on average, with volumes rising an average of 5% annually.

Unilever has grown volumes in emerging markets “in every one of those years”, Lawrence said. “And this is despite periods of sharp economic turbulence in particular geographies.”

According to Lawrence, Unilever’s strengths in developing markets include: strong local roots, a portfolio spanning relevant price points, a broad geographic footprint and the added leverage of global scale.

“We are confident in our ability to navigate our D&E businesses through either calm or choppy waters. Our strengths in D&E add up to a powerful combination.”