Unilever CEO Paul Polman urged business and government to think differently on sustainability

Unilever CEO Paul Polman urged business and government to think differently on sustainability

Unilever CEO Paul Polman is one of the most prominent advocates of companies pursuing an agenda of sustainability and this week he outlined the company's progress. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart Stores was forced to react to claims of bribery in its Mexican operations and Nestle's acquisition of Pfizer's baby food business was scrutinised by analysts. The investment community also had a raft of first-quarter results to get their teeth into, with Kellogg, PepsiCo, Premier Foods plc and Hershey among the companies reporting.

"Stop calling them consumers. We can't consume more because we don't have it. Call them users" - Unilever CEO Paul Polman calls for a change in mindset as he discusses the challenge ahead in making business activity and consumer behaviour more sustainable.

This week, Unilever published the results of the first year of its Sustainable Living Plan, a set of initiatives it believes will reduce its impact on the environment while the company continues to grow. just-food interviewed Polman after the results were published. Click here to read the interview.

"We are confident we are conducting a comprehensive investigation and if violations of our policies occurred, we will take appropriate action" - Wal-Mart Stores says it is looking into claims employees in Mexico bribed officials and allegations that staff decided not to pursue the matter further after becoming aware of the payments.

"The deal makes strategic sense as it gives them greater scale in Chinese Asia in infant nutrition and will boost earnings and sales and margin for the group. However, it is expensive and will likely hurt shareholder value in the short term" - Kepler Capital Markets Jon Cox on Nestle's US$11.85bn deal to buy Pfizer's baby food business.

"The real issue here is Kellogg specific... the good news is we have the opportunity to fix that and get back on track" - Kellogg president and CEO John Bryant admits the company's problems in Europe are unique to the business but insists it can recover.

"If you look at the IRI data that's coming out today, you're already beginning to see Frito share improve steadily" - PepsiCo chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi insists the performance of the company's Frito-Lay North America division is getting better after a quarter of falling volumes and margins.

"We have put a lot of effort behind the power brands, which is 70% of our branded revenue, and continue to be higher margin products. And I hope we will continue to see margin improvement as we go through the year but as you well know, there is a lot of market activity out there" - Premier Foods plc CEO Michael Clarke hopes the UK food manufacturer will see its margins improve.

"They now reach a much wider audience and given their growth in store numbers and subsequent geographical reach, this is likely to continue... Their offering is often perceived to be just as good, and sometimes better, than their higher priced counterparts" - Sue Benson, managing director of retail marketing agency The Market Creative, argues Aldl and Lidl can continue to thrive in the UK when the economy improves.

"Our overall performance is particularly striking in light of the headwinds in the United States from factors outside of our control" - Mead Johnson Nutrition president and CEO Stephen Golsby after the infant formula producer saw first-quarter sales and profits increase.

"In the last eight weeks, identical-store sales have been running at 1%, and we continue to believe sales will grow as our new marketing initiatives take hold" - Steve Burd, chairman and CEO of Safeway Inc, believes the US retailer's sales will improve after a quarter of flat identical-store sales.

"Sometimes you can look at numbers that might feel good but not be quality results but we are confident our numbers were quality results" - Hershey president and CEO John Bilbrey after the US confectioner reported a 24% jump in first-quarter profits.